Devotion #42

But I say, 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.

Galatians 5:16-17 ESV

As we’ve looked at verses over the past several weeks instructing us how to behave in our marriages, how we are to treat our spouses, how we are to forgive, we’ve continually come back to this truth: we cannot do what God calls us to do in our own power. It is only because the work of the Spirit in our hearts that we are able to follow His commands. We like to think we have something to do with it—we like to think we’re good people who deserve recognition. We even like to point to people who don’t do it as well as us, but the truth is this: it is only because Christ lives in us that we are able to love unconditionally, we are able to forgive completely, we are able to find contentment and joy in our marriages. It is the work of the Spirit that increases our gentleness and our patience, that allows us to think of the others needs before our own, that prompts us to serve the other person. 

If this is the case, then we need to figure out how to access the power of Christ that lives in us so we can be all that He created us to be, and so we can have the marriage He designed for us. Galatians 5 is one of the many passages in scripture that teach us how to walk in the Spirit. 

We were born into a dramatically broken world that does not function the way God intended it to operate, which means our marriages do not function the way He intended. There is an enemy who seeks to divide and destroy our marriages, and he draws us into that battle daily. But our loving Father in Heaven promises to protect us from evil. When we accepted Christ, He placed a warrior Spirit inside each of us who will battle with us and for us. He will even fight for our marriages when we don’t have the sense to battle for ourselves.

But how do we strengthen this Warrior? How do we grow the Spirit so that we can walk by it? 

The fruit of the Spirit is the supernatural outcome of being filled with the Spirit and is the living proof that the Spirit of God dwells in us. We know He is alive in us when we see this fruit in our lives happen in such a way that surprises even us—when we have joy in a difficult trial, when we have peace in a heart-breaking decision, when we love the difficult person in our lives, when we show kindness in the chaos. 

By contrast, when the Spirit is absent from our life, we struggle to demonstrate the fruit. We’re cranky, or filled with anxiety, we’re hyper critical or judgmental, we’re self-focused or harsh. When we struggle to demonstrate the fruit, it should be a huge red flag to us that we have quenched or grieved the Spirit. Pay attention to your actions—it can demonstrate the activity of the Spirit in your life. 

We know that we are filled with the Spirit as soon as we accept Jesus as our Savior—this fruit is in you in the same capacity as it it exists in Jesus. Think about that—the same love, peace, kindness that is in Jesus is in you! 

But we also know that we can stifle the Spirit…and when He is quiet, it is evident in our actions. It is on those days we struggle to show love or patience, we feel no joy, we are not kind or gentle, and our faith is small. When we find ourselves in one of those days, we must get alone with Him and get the scriptures open. There is something in our hearts that He needs to reveal to us. 

Perhaps we are quenching the Spirit by not following through on something He is calling us to do—we know the spiritual disciples of daily study of scripture, prayer, attending church and small group, but maybe we are not making Him a priority. If we choose other things over Him in our busy days, we will struggle to feel the Spirit and it will be evident in our lack of joy and peace. 

Or perhaps we are grieving the spirit with unconfessed sin. We need to fall before Him daily and ask Him to reveal our sinfulness to us. We are such a prideful people, my friends, that we don’t see the sin in our lives half the time. We are blind to so much of it. But if you ask, He will reveal it to you. Confess your sin and repent—confess the way you quench the Spirit, confess the way you grieve the Spirit, and as you do, the fruit will be so evident in your life it will blow you away. 

Here’s the thing: we can’t solve our marital problems horizontally. There is no amount of talking it through that’s going to solve your conflicts. If you want your marriage to grow stronger, if you want to win the battle, then you need to start looking vertically. Start with God, not your spouse. Spend time filling your heart with the Spirit before you fill your spouse’s ears with your concerns. When you are so filled with the Spirit that it is overflowing, that it literally spills out of you when you are around your spouse, that’s when the horizontal work is getting done in your marriage. 

Press on ~ you are loved 💗

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