We’ve been thinking a lot about fruit this week… in particular, marital fruit. This past week God brought to the forefront of our minds the importance of walking in the fruit of His Spirit. We’re watching buds and blooms physically popping out everywhere around us here in the desert southwest. And we love it! It’s fun to see God’s creative work on display all around us. But it’s even more thrilling to see the fruit of God’s Spirit being shown within marriages. We’ve been seeing some of that going on this past week too. And we have to say that it doesn’t get much sweeter than that!
Now, we confess that we have written on the issue of marital fruit a number of years ago. (It’s titled, How’s Your Fruit?) But God laid it upon our hearts again to cover this further. So that’s what we’re doing.
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In light of this, we have a question, a few thoughts, and then a challenge for you. Here is the question: Is it your heart’s desire to keep in step with God and be a Spirit led spouse? Please carefully consider the question. It concerns marital fruit. That’s what we’ve been doing.
A Question on Marital Fruit
We’re told in Galatians 5:16-17 to keep in step with the Spirit of God. God tells us to:
“Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit. And the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other to keep you from doing the things you want to do.”
As you read further in Galatians 5, God first points out the “works of the flesh” that “are evident.” The list is long and frankly, after reading them you might want to take a shower. They’re pretty raunchy. But they’re important to read because God gives them to us as a warning in Galatians 5:19-21.
However, in this marriage insight we want to land on the next few verses of Galatians 5. That’s where God wants us to live. We’re told in Galatians 5:22-25, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” God points out that “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.”
Picking Your Marital Fruit
So again, our question is: do you want to keep in step with God as a Spirit led spouse? This is an inward, reflective question. It’s a personal walk that you and God take together. If your spouse wants to join the challenge too… great! But you both are to look to God concerning your own walks.
Our challenge concerns picking the marital fruit that you’re personally finding it difficult to live out within your marriage. It could change at different times, depending upon the various circumstances you will face. But we encourage you to write (or type) out Galatians 5:22-23 on a card to display. Then post these fruits of God’s Spirit in one or more places where you’ll see them every day. Ask God to help you to continually walk in His Spirit inside your home and outside of it. If you fall… confess, then get back up, and get back into step with the Spirit once again.
It’s okay if others see your card(s). It might open up some good discussions. You can even ask someone to keep you accountable. And who knows where God will take it? But the main point is to participate with God in showing forth His fruit. We hope you will take hold of this challenge and run with it. There’s no doubt that this can improve your marriage and your spiritual walk with God.
Our Approach to Picking Marital Fruit:
This is how we are handling this challenge so you get a peek into our lives. First, we talked about this spiritual issue during one of our Couple Time talks. During that time we looked closely at those scriptures in Galatians 5. And then we agreed to prayerfully consider the marital fruit we should personally highlight to work on with God. We now have it posted on our refrigerator so we will both be reminded of this spiritual, marital challenge. It’s a good reminder now, and in the future.
This is what we are doing with the challenge:
After examining and praying about the fruit of the Spirit, I believe the fruit of self-control is challenging to me sometimes. I can let my mind go places it shouldn’t. When I feed thoughts I shouldn’t, my mood, and actions can go in negative directions. Of course, that’s not good for our marriage relationship. I can’t be projecting in my mind what Steve is or isn’t thinking. He may not be thinking of that at all. Or he may not have a hurtful motive going on behind what he is saying or doing.
I need to give him the benefit of the doubt. And if I question his motives or actions, I need to ask him. He’s a good guy. He will tell me the truth. And if there is something troubling going on, we need to deal with it together. Thus, I need to control my thoughts so I don’t cause him and our relationship more trouble than I should.
So, after praying about this, I wrote out a few things I’m going to work on doing. First, I’ve written down that I’m going to cut my thoughts off when they go in unhealthy directions. I’m going to more readily listen to the Holy Spirit when He prompts me to stop. God often tells me, “STOP! Don’t go there.” Sometimes I listen to His prompting. But other times I don’t. I keep going down unhealthy Imagination Paths. We’re told in the Bible to “cast out harmful imaginations.” In the New American Standard version of the Bible we are told:
“We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God. And we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)
That should be my goal, as well.
I’ve learned that when you take something negative away, it is wise to put something good in its place. So, I’m going to apply Philippians 4:8-9. (We have them written out in a watercolor in our living room. So it’s a continual reminder for both of us.) In those scriptures we are told:
“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.“
So, I’ll push out the unhealthy thoughts. I will then replace them with more positive thoughts and actions. If I need to ask Steve more questions, I will. And if this brings up problems we need to deal with, then we will. All of this will take more self-control—a fruit of the Spirit. May it be so Lord, may it be so!
As I read and prayed through all of the attributes of the Fruit of the Spirit, Self-Control is also the one that jumps out at me as what God wants me to work on. Actually, I should say, “I need to CONTINUE to work on it.” A lack of self-control is what got me in so much trouble when I was younger. I had a serious porn addiction. But even after God healed me of that, the enemy of our faith has never stopped trying to draw me back. To help me maintain my purity, and self-control I cling to Psalm 101:3. It states, “I will set before my eyes no vile thing.”
I have also trained my thought life to replace any “vile” image of the past with only the image of Cindy. I realize this will be a life-long battle. And I acknowledge that I could still fall at any time. For this reason I can’t take anything for granted. So self-control is the marital fruit that I will continue to work on with God.
Another self-control issue I need to continually work on is spending time in the Bible (consistently). I know I should be in God’s Word everyday, but sometimes I get caught up in busyness. King David gave me (us) the best reason to be consistent in our reading and applying God’s word when he said, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11)
Whenever I get distant, defensive, dismissive, angry, etc. over little things, Cindy usually makes the observation that I haven’t been spending time in the Bible. And she’s right. When I’m not consistently feeding on God’s word, my “starved” condition comes out in negative ways. But when I get back into the Word, God helps me make the course corrections needed to bless and strengthen our marriage.
So, I am now, all the more, focusing on the fruit of the Spirit concerning this aspect of self-control. To do this work for me, I’m now placing my Bible on top of my computer before I go to bed. This reminds me that my quiet time with God is my first priority. Also, I am getting up earlier to make sure I’m not just rushing through this to get it “done.” I’m aware that continually feeding upon God’s Word helps me, and ultimately helps me to be a better marriage partner.
What About You?
What is the marital fruit that you need to work on with God? Do you want to keep in step with the Spirit in your marriage? Examine the healthiness of the fruit you bring into your marriage. Is it lacking in some way? If it is, we hope you will join us in this challenge. We hope and pray you will.
Cindy and Steve Wright
And if you want a bit more info on this issue, here’s a good article to read. It’s posted on the Crosswalk web site. We believe it’s a good one!
• FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT: The First Steps to an Enduring Marriage
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