Fruit of the Spirit in Marriage: Patience

Re-learning How to Read

Re-learning How to Read

The photo above was posted on http://imgur.com/1Y1xF and shows the patience of John helping Linda re-learn the alphabet after losing her memory. You never know when or how patience will be needed in marriage—but patience is near the top of the list for marital health and honor.

Patience in the simple things

When and how in your marriage is patience needed? For us patience is displayed in the simple moments of life, like when one of you asks on a near-daily basis where their keys are (and they are almost always next to the purse) 🙂 . Or when one of us grabs his iphone 🙂 every time it buzzes.

Those are the little things that over time we simply learn to shake our head and smile inside quietly at the idiosyncrasies of our spouse. The proverbial rolling of the toilet paper off the back of the roll instead of the “right” way, where they squeeze the tube of toothpaste (we each have our own!), etc. You look for the compromise or you graciously look the other way and let it go.

Patience in the moderate things

Of course, there can be things our spouse does which were initially endearing when we dated. They way she loved telling and re-telling the details of her interactions with friends. How he did “manly” things like hunt and fish. She enjoys life and has a measured pace about her.

Only now she talks more than you’d like; he’s gone way too much from home and is over-invested in his hobbies; and she’s constantly late.  C.S. Lewis said, “Everyone is benevolent if nothing happens to be annoying him at the moment.”

Patience in the difficult things

Some things in marriage are just difficult. Our spouse hits a health crisis that requires our constant care. Or you’re a buoyant person and your mate is struggling with bouts of depression. Perhaps you became a Christian after you got married, and your spouse doesn’t share your beliefs or values. They may smoke or drink more than you’d prefer, but at this stage in their life there is no change on the horizon.

Is there any hope?

The hope comes from within as you choose to partner with God’s Spirit in you. One of the evidences (fruit) of God’s Spirit at work is patience. In the original language the word for “patience” means long-suffering, or a calm willingness to love through irritating or painful situations; patience guards our hearts from being easily offended, it doesn’t retaliate—rising or lowering to the other person’s attack. This is what God Spirit produces in the husband or wife who yields to Him.

So here’s where to start:

  • So that you don’t focus on the negative, first think of 10 things you can thank God for in your spouse.
  • Tell God that you want to live and express His patience to your spouse.
  • Analyze in which category your annoyance lies: simple, moderate, or difficult. Pray and ask Him if you should address it or have peace and trust Him to grow your patience through it. Ask Him to help you see your spouse through His eyes.
  • Lovingly and patiently address your spouse with respect and honor…or let it go and show grace and patience as you build your marriage!

Fruit of the Spirit in Marriage: Peace

Achieving Peace in Marriage

Achieving Peace in Marriage

Do you want peace in your life and marriage? A simple search on the internet will yield a variety of prescriptions for achieving “inner peace.” We celebrate peace with a “Nobel Peace Prize.” We seek world peace. We send out “peacekeeping” forces.

And yet every day the fabric of families is torn apart by marriages that have failed to achieve peace. Peace robbers come in the form of conflict over: parenting, money, sex, personality differences, spiritual mis-match, unconfessed sin, stress, frustration and the list goes on and on and on. These are real issues that marriages face and have to address. As a result of these peace-robbers, marriages get ripped up through divorce, abuse, and estrangement. Too many couples are facing pain because they have not yet learned how to find and apply God’s peace to their marriage.

Are you a peacekeeper?

One of the reasons couples fail to find peace is because they confuse peacekeeping with peacemaking. Peacekeeping comes about through misguided but well-intended personal effort. Peacekeepers are placaters. They tend to smooth things over, avoid conflict, keep everyone unruffled. They postpone difficult conversations hoping they will just go away. But instead peacekeepers have a growing dis-ease and lack of peace because they know that what they avoided will only build and explode at some point in the future. They have achieved a temporary quiet but not true peace.

Are you a peacemaker?

A peacemaker works through the real issues to find the solution or compromise. Ronald Reagan wisely said, “Peace is not the absence of conflict. It is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.” Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9) If working through conflict is a challenge for you, we just picked up Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott’s book, The Good Fight, and recommend it!

Are you a peace-bringer?

A peace-bringer is someone who continually yields to God’s Spirit in them as a result of their relationship with Jesus. While the circumstances of life and marriage may be unsettling, it is the peace-bringer who intentionally chooses to take their concerns to God. They express thankfulness for what they have that is good from God.  They are realistic enough to acknowledge what is tough and lay that before God in prayer. It’s through that perspective of thanks and petition that God’s Spirit develops in us what the Bible describes as a “peace that transcends understanding.” (See Philippians 4:6-7)

So how does this play out in marriage? You have the unique privilege of being a peacemaker and peace-bringer in your marriage to your spouse. The only way this happens is by recognizing when there is stress, frustration, tension, trouble—and choosing to bring it to God first. Sometimes all you have time for is a: “God, help me and give me peace by your Spirit.” When you breathe that prayer, God will give you what you need in the moment. Ideally you can begin talking to God now for the hot-spots in your life and marriage. As you do, you are inviting and allowing the Spirit to strengthen you with God’s peace.

Choose today to pursue peace in your life and marriage through God’s presence and help as you build your marriage!

Fruit of the Spirit in Marriage: Joy

Joy-filled couple

Acts 2:28b “…you will fill me with joy in your presence.”

Too many couples are seeking happiness when they should be pursuing joy. All too often marriages disintegrate because one or both spouses is looking to be made HAPPY by their mate. If the sense of happiness fades or gets thrown off-kilter, then we blame our spouse, withdraw, and even divorce.

For a Christian marriage to succeed and thrive there has to be a cooperation by each person with God’s Holy Spirit. The presence of God’s Spirit yields divine characteristics that the Bible calls “fruit” which are evidence of God’s work in our lives. The second fruit mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23 is JOY.

There’s a profound difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is based on our circumstances. For example:

  • We are happy when we get a raise
  • We are happy when we win a contest
  • We are happy when we get a new job
  • We are happy when we receive a gift from our spouse
  • We are happy when our spouse does something nice for us
  • We are “Happy, Happy, Happy” when we read Phil Robertson’s book on being Duck Commander 🙂

Joy, however is different. Joy is deeply rooted in who we are in our relationship with God. Joy trusts God, hopes in God, and has faith to trust him even when things are difficult.

The writer of Hebrews describes that Jesus endured the cross (pain) because of the joy that was yet to come. (Hebrews 12:2) The root word for joy is the same as that for grace. This means that even when things are difficult and painful in life—or in marriage—there can be a deep sense of joy as we place our hope in God. This doesn’t minimize or dilute the hurt, but it stabilizes us by being anchored in an unshakeable rock.

When we have joy from God’s Spirit, it is accompanied by grace. So a Christian spouse who is marked by joy is able to express God-given grace in difficult circumstances. Joy is a choice as is giving grace. In fact, it was commanded by Paul when he wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”

So how do we partner with the Holy Spirit to bring joy into our marriage? Ask God for it! When circumstances of life—or marriage—are difficult, breathe a prayer like, “Father, I want to have a faith-filled joy in the midst of this. I want to trust you and honor you with my attitude. Through the power of your Spirit, please give me joy to glorify you.”

  • When finances are tight, choose joy.
  • When your spouse doesn’t make you “happy,” choose joy.
  • When a health crisis hits, choose joy.
  • When people sin against you, choose joy.

Joy through God’s Spirit is vital for your relationship with God and your relationship with your spouse. Choose joy and build your marriage!

Fruit of the Spirit in Marriage: Love

Wedding vows

“To love…until death us do part.” Almost every married person has said some variation of these words at their ceremony. If we truly lived out the Christian definition of love the divorce rate among Christians would be 0% instead of nearly 50%.

But each person has their own personal definition of what “love” means when they utter those words. For some, it’s:

  • “As long as I feel close to you and we have reconcilable differences” then I love you.
  • Or, “As long as the romance endures and the money and health last….”
  • “As long as you continue to pursue me like you did when we were dating….”
  • “As long as you serve me and do things my way….”

The majority of the New Testament was written in the Greek language. In Greek, there are four different words for love—each carrying a different meaning. The foundational fruit (evidence/characteristic) of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian is a love (Gk. agape) which is a willing, self-sacrificing of one’s self for the well-being of another. The ultimate example, of course, is Jesus’ love for us as demonstrated by his sacrifice on the cross.

So right now, pause and ask God to show you, on a scale of 1-100 how you are doing at expressing this kind of love to your spouse. We are challenging every couple reading this to pray this prayer daily:

“God, through your Spirit help me to love my spouse the way Jesus loved me. Willingly, sacrificially, seeking what is best for them.”

Prayers like that are in accordance with His will for your marriage and you CAN do ALL THINGS through Christ who gives you strength (Philippians 4:13).

Every time we desire to be selfish is an opportunity to express agape (self-sacrificing) love. Even if we don’t feel loving, ACT loving. Over time feelings follow actions. We aren’t lacking integrity by acting obediently to the Bible even if we don’t feel like it. We are actually showing integrity by acting as a Christ-follower should act toward their spouse.

As you choose to let the Holy Spirit empower and guide you toward love there will be a variety of opportunities to express it:

  • Forgiveness for a wrong done to you
  • Blessing your in-laws with attention and care
  • Providing a foot rub when you dislike touching feet but your spouse enjoys it
  • Doing chores or projects your spouse doesn’t like
  • Blended family? Consistently showing your spouse’s children Jesus’ love and acceptance.
  • Being intentional in romantic gestures (not sexual)

Make the choice to yield your spirit and your will to God’s Spirit and God’s will. As you do, you will reflect Jesus to your spouse, strengthen your relationship, and be taking intentional Spirit-filled steps to Build Your Marriage!

How to Have a “Fruit-full” Marriage!

Fruit

If each spouse responded with the fullness of the Holy Spirit’s fruit being evidenced in them there would be no more divorce among Christians. Think about that. Imagine what it would look like and feel to have your spouse treat you with: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Is it possible that your marriage could be transformed if these qualities were present?

Of course, we can’t force our spouse to change, for at that very point we would cease to manifest gentleness or self-control or any other fruit.The only one we have the power to influence toward change is ourself.

So how does one begin to build their marriage through the evidenced presence of the Holy Spirit? That’s what we are going to explore in the next few blog posts each Thursday. One by one we will present each Fruit of the Spirit and some ideas for how to yield ourself to His work in our lives and marriage.

We know that among our readers there are a variety of theologies and individual perspectives of the work and person of the Holy Spirit. We believe He is the third person of the Trinity, He is a person, He is God, and He is active in the life of every person who has accepted Jesus as their leader and forgiver (aka Lord and Savior). As we increasingly grow in our relationship with Jesus and actively surrender to the work of the Holy Spirit, His presence transforms who we are into being more and more like Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Think of your life as having an instrument panel in front of you. As you look at the panel you notice that each gauge represents a different Fruit of the Spirit. Take a moment right now and ask God to reveal to you which gauges are toward empty. Is it joy? Patience? Gentleness? Self-control?

This simple evaluation is something that can be done on the way home from work, or before your spouse arrives, or when the children are heading home, or before an important meeting. Whatever God reveals, simply pray and ask Him to give you __________. You are yielding your spirit to the Holy Spirit’s work in and through you.

Without fail, each time we have practiced that simple evaluation and prayer, God has answered abundantly. We are praying and asking in accordance to His will. He WANTS us to reflect Jesus to those around us! Similarly, each time we have failed to evaluate and pray, our response has been less than Christ-like.

Keep this in mind as you read the upcoming posts on the different Fruit of the Spirit. Be humble before God as you yield to His Spirit and Build Your Marriage!