Fruit trees need strong roots. Roots help a tree gather enough moisture and nutrients to eventually bear fruit.
God wants his people to bear fruit too, fruit that is never out of season. And just as the fruit of a tree proceeds from its root, so a Christian’s fruit proceeds from the hidden work of the Holy Spirit. Through the gospel of God’s love, the Spirit changes us, enabling us to bear “the fruit of the Spirit.” One example of that fruit is Christian love.
The love that comes naturally to humans grows from worldly roots. Such love is quick to ripen and quick to rot. Love rooted in the gospel is different. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters... Let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:16,18).
Of course, laying down our lives for someone is not a typical way that we show Christian love. Daily love is not so heroic. But it does require holy strength to lay down our impatience with our whining children, to lay down our own agendas and listen to a friend’s worries, to lay down our desire to retaliate when someone hurts us. Such love in action requires the work of the Spirit in our hearts. Such love is only possible because Christ loved us first.