By Auntie Em, Contributing Writer
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” ~ Galatians 5:22 NIV
As Christians, all of us have the Holy Spirit of Christ living in us and His power available to us. If we are fully surrendered to Him there should be evidence of it, and one of the most obvious signs is the presence of the fruit of the Spirit. Sometimes a plant will come up in my garden and I don’t recognize it until it blooms. In the same way, the “fruit” you display will show whether Christ has just a toehold on your life or has all of you.
A marriage where both spouses are fully committed to the Lord will be beautiful showcases of the fruits of the Spirit! The next few months we will be studying and seeing how these gifts can be applied to marriage.
Love is listed first, because it’s the foundation of every other fruit, as well as the foundation of marriage itself. The English language is limited here, since we use the same “love” to express our feelings for our husbands, children, hamburgers, dogs, or anything else. The word used in this Scripture is the Greek agape (Latin caritas), which describes the unconditional love that God has for us, that always seeks the best for the receiver; it freely gives without expecting anything in return. Imagine marriages where both husband and wife love with this kind of love!
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” ~ John 13:34-35
Get it? “As I have loved you” means we are to demonstrate that agape love– that’s how we are to love if we want people to know we are His disciples.
“Whoever forgives an offense seeks love, but whoever keeps bringing up the issue separates the closest of friends.” ~ Proverbs 17:9
In marriage, we must always be ready to forgive, then to cast it into the depths of the sea and leave it there. (Micah 7:19)
“Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.” ~ Colossians 3:19
This seems self-explanatory; I think Paul just realized that– newsflash!!– men and women are different; many times women are more sensitive than men, and the tough face sometimes needed in their jobs is not the one to use with their wives. (Peter echoes this sentiment in 1 Peter 3:7, when he reminds husbands to be considerate and treat their wives as more delicate than themselves.)
“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” ~ Ephesians 5:1-2
This is very clear: God tells us to “walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us”– that’s agape– and “gave himself up for us”– that’s sacrificial love.
When we can love our spouses with unselfish, sacrificial, agape love, God will be glorified and our marriages will be fulfilling and happy.
What is the biggest obstacle in your marriage that prevents you from practicing agape love consistently?