Invite the Holy Spirit into Your Relationships
- 2009 15 Dec
This holiday — and every day — each of us might have to deal with someone who has an attitude problem.
Inside every believer there is a war raging. It is the battle between the "old self" and the "new self." The old self is empowered and directed by our natural human nature which is, by nature, selfish and deceptive. The new self is empowered and directed by the Holy Spirit and is, by nature, other centered and relationally skillful.
Colossians 3 lays out the contrast:
But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, 10and have put on the new self . . . So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts . . . (Colossians 3:9-15)
The Holy Spirit will help you know how to respond when someone you love (or not) is functioning in the old self. He or she may be angry or contentious or fearful or any of a hundred other reactions in life. As this is happening, the Holy Spirit will prompt you to do the opposite. You will have a strange sense that you should respond to anger with gentleness, argumentativeness with peace or hurtful words with compassion. It will go against your natural inclinations and you will probably resist it because it feels hard and vulnerable.
When you respond, however, you give the Holy Spirit the opportunity to change your spouse's heart (or other loved one's heart). You have probably noticed that it does not help to point out your spouse's bad behavior, even when you are right. It will create a fire in your relationship but not the kind that leads to passion! This holiday (and everyday), just try to be "opposite" of each bad attitude or action you encounter. Don't get sucked into other's bad attitudes and actions, instead pray, "Spirit, show me what is opposite of the negative I see here."
Here are habits you can develop in your life to get yourself ready to hear from God as you choose the opposite:
Practice delaying your response. When your spouse responds to you in a negative way, count to five before you say or do anything.
Pray and ask , "What is the opposite of this negative behavior?"
Purpose to do the opposite behavior. Rather than react to the negative words or actions of your loved one, choose to be positive and encouraging. Then see what God does.
Change may not happen immediately, but it might, and it's guaranteed you certainly won't help the situation if you react negatively too—so try the opposite. Life and love will be more successful if you seek to live, keep in step with and listen to God's Spirit and walk in newness. What better gift than to put on "the new self" this season?
December 17, 2009
Pam and Bill Farrel are relationship experts, international speakers, and authors of over 30 books including best selling Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti and their newest, The Marriage Code. Listen to a Focus on the Family interview and watch a webcast of the Farrels talking about The Marriage Code and gain more helpful resources and products: www.pamandbill.org