“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, (faithfulness) meekness, temperance (self -control): against such there is no law.”Galatians 5:22-23
When one meets that special someone there are many thoughts of love and eternal bliss. There are no thoughts of strife, adversity or even disagreements. On my wedding day, I had no thoughts of ever fighting with Rebekah, and I even thought to myself that I would never make her cry in our marriage. Well, I was not successful in that regard even though Rebekah is easily given to tears due to her empathetic nature. We have had our shares of adversity and some nights when the sun set on our wrath and carried into several other sunsets. I have had some not-so-stellar moments by getting frustrated and losing my temper, but I am grateful for the growth God has given both of us in our many years of marriage.
Rebekah and I are counseling a young couple who have aspirations of marriage, but want make sure God is in it and want to do things the right way. Rebekah is reading through a book that we are using to counsel and it has been helpful and informative. There are various worksheets and lists to complete to see if the couple is compatible and what areas stand out as red flags. The red flags are not necessarily a definitive “stop here and don’t proceed to go”, but they are certainly things a couple must consider as they can rear their ugly heads if not dealt with accordingly. The couple is diligent in filling these worksheets out, but as we have gone through these together, Rebekah noticed something interesting.
Rebekah remarked that if she and I were to do these worksheets prior to our own marriage, we would have been advised to go our separate ways. We were not compatible in a lot of ways and this showed at times while we were dating and through the first years of our marriage. As a famous story once said, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” We both were trying to get our own way and we were not willing to surrender our will to the other. I was stubborn and prideful in many ways and it was as if we were like Jacob and Esau in the womb jockeying for prime position. We were definitely tangled in the womb of adversity as we sought our own way. The challenges of marriage brought about adversity, and God brought about many tests that I failed on the regular. I at times forgot about those blissful marriage thoughts I had in the beginning.
I learned a lot of things through the adversity, and I knew if we were going to be successful in marriage that I was going to need to make changes in my life. I would need to grow spiritually, and in doing that, I would have seen the fruit of the spirit define my life: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control. I lacked this fruit in my life because I wasn’t walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16) and it showed up in a lot of things, but most glaringly in my marriage. I failed many tests before I cooperated with God as He worked in my life and taught me that if I would submit to Him, than I could experience the fruit of the Spirit. I could make a difference for Him in my life and in my marriage. I am far from perfect, but I am grateful for the work God has done in me. God has grown Rebekah and me a couple and as individuals. I do not always pass the “pop quizzes” adversity brings, but I am grateful to God for the help He gives when adversity arises.
Where are you today friend? How are you when it comes to the womb of adversity? Are you continuously failing those pop quizzes of adversity or do you see growth in your life? Do you exhibit the fruit of the Spirit or would those in your home and at work laugh at the very notion of it? We often hurt those we love when we do not display the fruit of the Spirit as God wants to grow in us. May we bring honor to our God and demonstrate to those around us His fruit in us.