It’s that time of year where gift giving is on the minds of most people around the world because of Christmas. Many consider giving fruit baskets and cakes to family and friends. But I thought of another way to give out “fruit” as well. How about giving out the “fruit of the Spirit” through “random acts of kindness”? A random act of kindness is,
“a selfless act performed by a person or persons wishing to either assist or cheer up an individual… There will generally be no reason other than to make people smile, or be happier” (Wikipedia.org).
Taking it a step further, how about carrying out random acts of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control“ (inspired from Galatians 5:22-23) with and for your spouse? As Mary Ann Romans suggests:
“Why not take this whole random acts of kindness idea to your marriage? There are two ways and two benefits to doing this. First of all, you can practice these random acts of kindness together. Not only will you be blessing the lives of other people, but you will also strengthen your marriage by working together and coming face to face with the reality of how blessed you are.
“You can also practice random acts of kindness for your spouse. This is both easier and harder than it might seem. You probably already do a lot for your spouse, but what if you did some extra things without being asked or without telling? Perhaps you find a lost object, put gas in the car, make a favorite meal, etc. Aim to find at least one new random act of kindness that you can practice for your spouse each day.”
Concerning the “fruits of the Spirit”, you could fruitfully show “love” many ways. Steve blessed me the other day when he offered me a foot massage (knowing I had been up on my feet most of the day). How WONDERFUL! He also asked me the other morning, “What can I do that would be the MOST help to you?” My “Love Language” for sure! I’ve blessed him by randomly making things peaceful and relaxing within our home (when possible), and yet spark romance at other times.
There are a variety of ways to show your spouse love in a manner that he/she best understands it. As a matter of fact, on our web site we have “100 Ways to Show Love to Your Wife HER Way” and “100 Ways You Can Love Your Husband HIS Way” listed in the “Romantic Ideas” section which can help you come up with ideas.
Another fruit is “joy”, where you randomly bring little spots of joy into your spouse’s life. One way I do this with Steve is to look for things that are funny to share with him. Laughter really is “good medicine” (as the Bible says) —it’s good for us individually AND for our marriage. Life is hard, so it’s good to find ways to bring a smile to our spouse’s face whenever possible.
Concerning this “fruit of the Spirit” there’s a helpful Crosswalk.com article titled “10 Tips to Prepare for the 2009 Holiday Season” written by Jim Burns. In the second tip, Jim wrote:
“Remember the holiday season does not eliminate sadness or loneliness. Problems and difficulties arise even during the holiday season. And, for some, it evokes painful memories from recent events or the loss of loved ones in the past. Give room for yourself and your family to experience these feelings. Try not to let them become a consuming focus. Make an effort to work through present challenges and conflicts.”
My husband Steve helped me with this on Saturday as we were decorating for Christmas. We came across ornaments our (prodigal) sons had made for us years earlier in church. The memories were painful because they’re walking a different spiritual road at this time and we miss sharing and worshipping Christ together with them.
I also found an ornament that my brother Rick (who died several years ago) had made for me. On the ornament, he wrote, “A brother is someone who knows the song in your heart and sings it when you forget the words.” How I miss his “singing” on this side of heaven. As I shared this heartache with Steve, he held me in his arms and brought comfort. It lightened the load a bit and drew us closer together.
For tip number 3, Jim Burns wrote:
“Acknowledge the past, but look forward to the future. Life brings change. Each season of life is different. Determine to enjoy this holiday season for what it is. Acknowledging the past, whether it was good or bad, is appropriate. But, if you find that this year has been a rough one and you don’t anticipate having the best holiday season ever, try not to set yourself up by comparing today with the ‘good old days.’ Take advantage of the joys the present holiday season has to offer.”
We pray you will, despite the pain you may be experiencing.
I’ll go a step further. Look for ways to share joy. If you have a smile, share it. If you don’t, find one and give it away. Proverbs 11:25 states, “He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.“ I saw this in author Barbara Johnson, who knew immense sorrow in her life, yet she made audiences laugh worldwide. I one time questioned her about it. I asked, “Barbara, how do you do it? How do you find the strength to help others laugh despite your painful life?” She pointed out that scripture and stated that when she made others laugh, she was refreshed as well. What a powerful truth!
So, even though your pain won’t go away, don’t let it eat you alive. Look for joy somehow and share it with your spouse and others, randomly. It will help them AND you.
Another “fruit of the Spirit” is “patience” —one of the fruits that most of us lack, but need the most. Sometimes when Steve goes shopping with me, he’ll take off his watch, so he won’t be as impatient. And I work not to try his patience as much by hurrying more than I would if he wasn’t with me. Ask God to show you specific ways to bless your spouse with this fruit.
For the fruit of “faithfulness” and “self-control”, refrain from using hurtful humor at your spouse’s expense. Also look for ways to guard your heart, assuring your spouse that you’re true to your wedding vow of loving, honoring and cherishing …to “have and to hold” to him or her alone. (We have articles to help you build hedges of protection in your marriage in the “Emotional Infidelity” and “Extramarital Affairs” sections of our web site.)
Even if your spouse has been unfaithful, ask God to help you not to fall into the trap of opening your heart to someone else. Stay faithful. “It is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful“ (1 Corinthians 4:2).
And then there is the fruit of “kindness”, “goodness” and “gentleness”. Look for ways to be kinder in your words and actions. Keep in mind that when you’re too busy to be kind, you’re too busy. Take a deep breath; regroup your thoughts, and ask God for help and possible short cuts.
“Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins“ (2 Peter 1:5-9).
“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near“ (Philippians 4:5). “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity“ (Colossians 3:12-13).
In unity with Christ, let us look for ways to give the fruit of the Spirit in random acts of love this Christmas season and beyond. And may God bless you in these efforts!
Cindy and Steve Wright