Well, this morning began early as I delved into God’s Word and various readings before heading off for my morning saunter in the park. One of the articles I read brought to mind the state of being unequally yoked, whether it be in marriage or in friendship. The scripture passage was 1 Thessalonians 5:21-23, and what really hit home was something that Dr. Charles Stanley wrote in his devotional for today:
“At salvation, God gives us His nature, the evidence of which is fruit of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal. 5:22). These qualities allow us to love and be loved. And people will be attracted to Jesus when they sense these characteristics in believers. On the other hand, if these attributes are missing, we can never truly experience life as God intended.
What rules your actions, choices, and thoughts? Are they primarily influenced by the Holy Spirit or by your flesh? It takes courage to look at your heart and notice its true condition. Ask God to work in your life so that His Spirit can reign freely in your heart.”
We wonder why our relationships are one-sided, why we cannot give or receive love according to “our” rules. If we are trying to grow a relationship where both parties do not have the common bond of Christ as Savior and Lord and we are not heeding God’s exhortation to allow the Holy Spirit to develop those qualities called fruit of the Spirit, then the relationship can never go or grow in the same direction.
When we experience difficulties in our friendships, let’s first ask these questions of ourselves: 1) Am I truly exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit in my own life? 2) Am I looking out for others’ interests (see prior post) and asking God to work in my life so that the qualities of Jesus are prominently displayed? If the answer is “yes” to either or both, then thank God for His presence and power in your life. Also pray for the other party to accept your offer of kindness and selflessness and to recognize that you are truly looking out for them and wanting the relationship to be enhanced.
If the answer is “no” to either question, then first pray for yourself to have a repentant heart and to be open for His correction and direction so that you are exhibiting the qualities of Jesus. Then, continue to pray for the other party in the relationship as you begin to reconcile the difficulties (maybe even by saying you were wrong and / or that you are sorry). Also ask the Lord to help you display Godly qualities so that the other party will see your true heart and want to move forward with the relationship and grow to be more like Christ together.
God will help us get rid of our old “flesh” so that we can experience fullness of life in Christ. What a joy to be able to experience that life with others who are like-minded and like-spirited. May you go and grow in grace and with the fruit of the Spirit evident in your life today!