Written by Special Guest Contributor: Cindy Goff
“But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith-fulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.: Galatians 5:22-23
For many years, I had little understanding of how my childhood impacted my interpretation of life events. I had been raised in a home where anger, frustration and verbal abuse accompanied most conversations. As I grew older and married, I began to demonstrate those negative patterns of interaction in my marriage. I was one of those “glass half empty” individuals. Whenever life situations or my husband didn't meet my expectations, I would slip into a negative spiral...I vowed would never happen to me!
Those close to me would make comments such as “You must have eaten some sour cherries” or “you're an old sour puss”..... I remember being accused of carrying around a sour disposition, not reflecting anything which would be attractive to another human being, unless it was another “sour puss”! My words would often be negative and have a tone of voice which was less than inviting. I wondered why Will, my husband, was “turned off”. I was producing the wrong kind of fruit in my life.
A 15th century monk named Julian of Norwich said, “The greatest honor that you can give to Almighty God, greater than all your penances and sacrifices and mortifications, is to live joyfully because of the knowledge of His love.”
I had no concept of what a fathers love looked like and how that was impacting my "fruit"; my attitude, outlook, responses and character. As I previously stated, the interactions with my earthly father had a negative impact on me. I led a guarded life. When I began to understand the constant fullness of God's love and learned to know and trust Him in all circumstances my "fruit" began to change. My speech became less caustic. The bitter words were exchanged for words which were uplifting and edifying.
The world began to appear less negative and relationships became healthier. Our marriage changed when Will and I grew in our personal relationship with God. The fruit of the spirit spontaneously appeared. When we experienced God as Abba Father (Daddy), we discovered the joy of loving unconditionally. It became second nature.
Some questions to assess the fruit you're bearing:
- What are my 'natural responses' to life? Are they 'more' or 'less' aligned with Galatians 5:22-23?
- Do I have certain patterns of negative response? Is it the result of an old hurt or wound?
- When interacting with those closest to me, do I begin thinking defensively to protect or defend myself rather than listening with an open heart?
- Am I willing to invite the Lord into those parts of my life and ask the Holy Spirit to release a right response?
Those negative reactions will continue unless we “take them captive” and become intentional in our relationships (with God and others). In order to have a full and joyful life, it is important to assess ourselves objectively and establish a plan to develop new patterns of interactions.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keeps the law are happy”. Proverbs 29:18. When we accept Christ, God places His truth on our hearts. When we focus on Him, ask Him to teach us and allow the Holy Spirit to fill and produce, we can experience an abundant life. The fruit becomes ripe and sweet!
Ask God to help you identify an area where the fruit needs to mature. Find a picture or photo which represents that attribute. Post it nearby so that you are reminded that He is working and the fruit will ripen as you focus on Him and His word. Memorize and meditate on Galatians 5:22-23 and witness that fruit begin to appear in your life.
Christian Family Life is a marriage discipleship ministry. We are here to offer resources and support no matter what condition your marriage is in. Our passion is to Build, Enrich, and Reconcile Marriages. Find out more at https://www.christianfamilylife.com/
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