THE BAD NEWS
“Tell me how to find contentment in this mess,” she pleaded.
She needed some instruction. So together, we took a look at some Bible verses.
The deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envyings, drunkenness, carousings, and things like these (Galatians 5:19-21).
“Deeds of the flesh” come from within. Other people may give occasion for you to express them, but people don’t cause them.
Which of these apply to Molly? Enmity, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions.
“What about Allan?” she shouted. “He’s a lying, two-faced adulterer and blames me for driving him into that woman’s arms.”
True. Which of these apply to Allan? Immorality, sensuality, enmities, strife, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions.
If both Allan and Molly had a cold, each would need to be treated for his or her own cold. Likewise, each needed to deal with his or her own works of the flesh.
THE GOOD NEWS
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control: against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23).
What a relief it would be for Molly to be filled with such a Spirit. Especially when she was alone. Also, especially toward Allan.
“Why should I treat him like that?” she grumbled. “He doesn’t deserve it.”
True. He didn’t. But why should his presence ruin her inner life and spoil her evenings?
Molly was noncommittal when she left. Isn’t it strange how readily we accept and defend our outbursts of anger, disputes, and strife; and how steadfastly we resist love, joy, peace, and the rest of the fruit of the Spirit?
I’ve learned from my clients that the one who is mistreated tends to be preoccupied with the misdeeds of the offending one, but tends to justify personal negative behavior or reactions toward the offending person, even at the cost of personal misery.
The next time Molly came, I hardly recognized her. Her face was relaxed, the shrillness was gone from her voice. She was beautiful and content.
What had happened?
She had repented of her nastiness and had asked God to give her His spiritual qualities. She had dealt with herself.
“Now, do you still want to work on saving your marriage?” I asked. She said she did.
HOW SHE SAVED HER MARRIAGE
“Then, the next time Allan comes over, melt into his arms and give him a kiss such as you have never given him before.” Her response to that was:
“But let me warn you,” I went on. “Don’t be surprised if he doesn’t respond.”
Sure enough, the next time Allan showed up, she melted into his arms, and he got out of there and drove off.
He didn’t know how to handle such behavior and fled, wondering what she was up to.
There is a happy ending to this story. Molly had her lapses, but she continued to ask God to fill her with His qualities.
Allan’s visits became mutually pleasant experiences. He wanted to find what Molly had found. He asked her to explain the basis for the change in her.
Molly simply explained that she had become so preoccupied with Allan’s misdeeds that she had become totally blind to her own.
When it dawned on her that her nastiness was her own doing, she confessed the fact to the Lord, asked Him to forgive her, to cleanse her, and to strengthen her with His Spirit. When she saw clearly that she had been blaming Allan for her choices, by an act of her own will, she took responsibility for her choices.
“I WAS WRONG”
“I was very wrong in the way I treated you, Allan,” she said. “And I’m sorry. Please forgive me, and with God’s help I mean to respond to you as a wife should. What you do in relation to God is your choice.”
He went away convinced that Molly was laying a trap. Now, when Allan came over, he was looking for a fight. She took months of mistreatment in exchange for her friendly, quiet manner.
Finally, he was convinced that the new Molly had something, and one day, all alone, he asked Jesus to invade his life, forgive him for his adulterous, nasty, selfish ways and give him the Spirit Molly had.
Today, nearly three years later, they are united as a family. They found the key to contentment.
They found that peace and love come from God, not from human relationships.
If they continue to turn Godward for the qualities that only He can give–love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control-–they will become two indestructibles. (Continue to next page)