Fruit of the Flesh
by Hayley DiMarco
Before marriage, the fruitful life came easily, hope was the focus, dreams the delight, and fantasy the certainty… How easy it is to manifest love in your life when you’ve just fallen in love. How easy to be joyful when the future is so bright. How effortless are our kindness and goodness when love is new and warts are unseen. And so out of the satisfaction of my flesh came fruit that looked a lot like the fruit of the Spirit in me but was only the flesh in me in a moment of relationship perfection.
But marriage—marriage was totally different. Never before had the sin in my life been so exposed for another to see—and another’s for me to see. Never had my love, patience, and faithfulness been so put to the test by my sinful nature. Never before had I seen my selfishness, fearfulness, and doubt so clearly as in the face and words of the new mirror in my life, my husband. And so for me, the Fruitful Wife becomes my biggest challenge ever. Living life with a man at my side, all the while manifesting the life of Christ in me in the face of my husband’s faux pas, misunderstandings, rejections and failures, is impossible in the power of my flesh. I am unable to abandon my self-protection, self-importance, and self-obsession, especially when he’s wrong, hurtful, or ignorant. I naturally resort to self when tested; it’s my habit, my nature, my flesh. When I’m misunderstood, I get defensive.
When I’m uncomfortable, I complain. When I’m tired, I’m cranky. When I’m at the end of my rope, I lack all self-control. So the descriptive, “Fruitful Wife,” does not come naturally to me.
Maybe there are women who, when frustrated by their husband’s laziness and failure to help out around the house, are patient and peaceful, but that’s not my natural bent. Maybe there are women who, when their husbands reject their advances or accuse them of being selfish or unreliable, still act in love with self-control and kindness, but that’s not my first instinct. Essentially whenever Michael points out, exposes, or in anyway reminds me of my failure in life, i.e., my sinfulness, my first reaction is the opposite of fruitful. I want to respond with any combination of another kind of fruit, which I call the nine fruit of the flesh: selfishness, joylessness, conflict, impatience, mercilessness, immorality, unfaithfulness, pride, and self-indulgence. These come easily, but the nine fruit of the Spirit go against every fiber in my being. My flesh literally fights against them, making war in my heart and mind. In Romans 7 Paul identifies with this war: “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members” (Rom. 7:21–23).
I am not alone. This war is universal; it touches us all. And I believe that nowhere is it seen so forceful and tragic as in the relationship of husband and wife.
Taken from The Fruitful Wife by Hayley DiMarco copyright ©2012. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, Il 60187.