Thanks to Austin at SkyCow, my two daughters, Bekah and Rachel,Â and my daughter-in-law Heather are now going to be posting on Femina with me. In other words, you are now in for a real treat. They are all very busy mothers with lots to say about lots of topics. I hope you will enjoy this new format. I even know how to post pictures now, but I promise to exercise restraint. With my daughter Bekah’s family hunkered down into serious packing mode to head back to Oxford on Tuesday, I’m doubting you’ll hear from her for a week or two. Between all four of us, I don’t know who has the most on her plate. But I’m hoping this will quadruple the output.
The list of fruit in Galatians begins with love. Before we get into applying this to marriage, let’s examine what the Bible says about whom and what we are supposed to love, and what that love should look like.
Our first duty is to love our Maker.
Deuteronomy 6:4-5: Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Notice that we are to love with everything we have. By loving God first, we have the ability to love others. How can we tell if we love God? Jesus says in John 14:23, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.”
And in John 14:15 he says, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” If we wonder if we really love God, we can’t look into our hearts or check our emotions, we must consider how eager we are to obey God. This is the real test of our love of God.
We also love God’s law, His word, and His testimonies. Consider how the psalmist is delighting, meditating on, and keeping God’s law.
Psalm 119:127: Therefore I love Your commandments more than gold, yes, than fine gold!
Psalm 119:47: And I will delight myself in Your commandments, which I love.
Psalm 119:97: Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.
Psalm 119:167: My soul keeps Your testimonies and I love them exceedingly.
Next, we are to love our neighbor. Leviticus 19:18: You shall not hate your brother in your heart; you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord. By the way, our husband is our closest neighbor, not the girl down the street.
Not only are we to love our neighbors, we are to love our enemies. Matthew 5:44-46: But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? God is kind to those who are evil, and we are called to imitate Him in this.
We are to love our fellow saints: John 15:12-14: This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.
We see this again in 1 Peter 2:17: Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.
And finally, we are to love our husbands and children. Titus 2:4 tells the older women to “admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children.”
We are to love God, love His Word, love our neighbors, love our enemies, love our fellow Christians, love our husbands, love our children. I don’t think anyone has been left out. But what is this love supposed to look like? The world can come up with lots of views on love, but since God Himself is love, we look to Him to define and illustrate it for us. As we look at a few more passages to help us to see the qualities of this kind of love, let’s go ahead now and apply it to our love for our husbands.
Love covers sins. Proverbs 10:12: Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins.
Let me interpret this. Love covers over plain old sin. Not just over offenses or mistakes or bumps, but it covers over real sin.
Love is fervent and forgiving.1 Peter 4:8: And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins. We are not to be half-hearted about loving our husbands; we are to have a real zealousness about it.
Love builds up. 1 Corinthians 8:1 Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies. Remember the wise woman in Proverbs 14:1 is building her house while the foolish woman is tearing hers down. Wives show a constructive love to their husbands when they show respect, kindness, and gratitude. They destroy the place when they are disrespectful, disobedient, and dishonoring to their husbands.
Here is a clear definition of what a biblical love will look like. I have to quote this whole passage from Romans 12:9-21:
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. Bless those who curse you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. Therefore, If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Let’s take a look at a few things here. Love should be affectionate. This means it is demonstrative, warm, and responsive. It is humble, not bossy; diligent, not lazy; patient, not impulsive; hopeful, not critical; prayerful, not careless; active, not stagnant.
It is not hypocritical, angry, high-minded, self-absorbed, vengeful, or overwhelmed. Love does not give up. It is thoughtful and serious. Love is not thinking about itself but about the beloved.
A very familiar Scripture is 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Years ago I heard my father-in-law say that we should substitute our own name wherever the word love appears in this passage. Try it out and see how you do.
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.
So consider these things as a wife. Are you longsuffering in the midst of difficulty? But not only that, are you cheerful and kindly? Do you give up easily, or are you joyful and patient? Are you keeping your marriage vows faithfully, always hopeful, enduring hardships, unfailing in your loyalty and commitment to the man you married?
Love is not envious, self-centered, arrogant, rude, self-seeking, irritable, suspicious, or unreliable. It is not glum, negative, or depressed. Love prevails.
This is a study I lead over the course of ten weeks on how we can walk worthy of our calling as Christian women, specifically considering how we can be full of the fruits of righteousness in our marriages. Though the primary applications will be to married women, there is no reason that unmarried women should feel excluded. This first lesson is a discussion of fruit in general. Subsequent lessons will examine each of the fruits mentioned in Galatians.
Women, Marriage, and the Fruit of the Spirit: Part 1
We are all pretty well acquainted with the passage in Galatians 5:22-26:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness [gentleness], goodness, faithfulness, gentleness [meekness], self-control [temperance]. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with it is passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.(*These verses are from the NKJV. The words in brackets are from the KJV.)
If we want fruit in our lives, we must first acknowledge the source of all such fruit, which is of course the Spirit of God who indwells His people. That is why it is called fruit of the Spirit and not the fruit of Jane or Susan. Notice that the antithesis of Spiritual fruit is the flesh with its passions and desires. Paul mentions here a few specific manifestations of fleshly passions: conceit, provocation, and envy.