Scripture suggests that we can look at our lives as a set of relational gardens (John 15:1-17; Matt. 22:37-39). I have identified nine such "gardens" that when tended to in the proper way, lead to an abundant, full, and prosperous life, the first being our relationship with God, then ourselves, spouse (if applicable), children, work, church, money, friends, community, and enemies. If we want to have a healthy, joy-filled life, it is up to each of us to grow the fruit of the Spirit in each of these relational gardens of our lives.
The Holy Spirit whispers to us, encouraging us to sow seeds of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control into our marriages, friendships, family, and so on (Gal 5:22-23). When we do what He asks us to do, then that part of our life will be very enjoyable and abundant. But if we neglect that relational garden or do things that damage it, then we will be disappointed or attacked over time in that relational garden.
Too many of us have a mentality that someone else is responsible for us having a wonderful life. It is erroneous to think that we should just show up in our relationships and we will be showered with wonderful experiences, meaning, adoration, and the like. But this is not what the Scripture says. Galatians 6:7 says this,
"Do not be deceived: God will not be mocked. Whatsoever a man sows that shall he also reap."
In other words, the quality of our relationships is dependent upon us partnering with God to grow that relationship to be all it can be.
I know a number of men and women who are shocked that their mates are not grateful to have them around even though they say mean things to them, never compliment them, cheat on them, ignore them, and many other counterproductive actions and words. Just like the concept of sowing and reaping, if you do not plant the right crops and tend to your marriage garden, you will not receive anything lovely from it-it will just be filled with a bunch of weeds, pests, and rotten produce. All of your relationships are just like this. When you plant love, joy, peace, patience, and the rest, and then you care, protect, and nourish the person or people in that relationship, in due time you reap a wonderful crop of love, respect, joy, and kindness.
As it pertains to your marriage, ask yourself how much time you have spent sowing positive seeds of love? Now put yourself mentally in your marriage and ask the Holy Spirit which of the fruit of the Spirit He wants you to add to your marriage today. Go through the list in Gal 5:22,23 and to the best of your ability make the changes necessary to add that positive quality in some way to your marriage. Is He asking you to be more patient? Do you need to exercise self-control by biting your tongue when you want to lash out? Is He asking you to be gentle in your demeanor and in the way you speak? Yes, your partner will wonder what you are after. The answer is that you want a better marriage.
The following exercise has been very helpful to get couples to see what they may need to start doing to make their marriage better. Read the affirmations of the Fruit of the Spirit, which states the actions of the fruit of the Spirit as a current reality. Ask God the Holy Spirit to guide you to the one you need to work on today. Which one(s) do you need to apologize for not pursuing?
Yes, there are lots of unique actions and words that would help a marriage to be much better, but let's start with the basic fruit that needs to be grown in this relational garden. Wouldn't it be great if you could just count on your spouse being loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, gentle, faithful, and self-controlled? Wouldn't it be great if your spouse could count on you being loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, gentle, faithful, and self-controlled? Let this be the first day of a new cooperation with God in gardening your marriage for the crop of positive qualities that need to exist between you and your spouse.
I look forward to interacting with you during your spiritual journey. Please email me at email@example.com to let me know how God is working in and through your life. Your greatest life is just ahead.
In His service,
Join the Giving Movement November 29th!
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PTLB Founder and President, Gil Stieglitz
PTLB is proud to participate with other non-profit, local charities on #GivingTuesday! This 11/29, we are asking you to partner with us to expand our reach to hundreds, or even thousands, more people, churches, pastors, and couples who are trying to restore marriages, battle against sexual temptation, build relational health, and more. For more information, visit www.ptlb.com/givingtuesday.