Reading Reflection:

If You Bite and Devour One Another, Alexander Strauch (Lewis & Roth, 2011) The theme of this book is found on page 8: When conflict arises, our attitudes and behaviors should reflect our new life in Christ given by the Holy Spirit who lives within us.  We are to display the fruit of the Spirit and not the works of the flesh.  We are to walk in step with the Spirit’s leading.  We are to be Spirit-controlled and not flesh-controlled or out of control. Obviously, that’s way easier said than done, which is why this book is so helpful.  As I am reading Strauch’s biblical wisdom on handling conflict, I have been meditating on what it means to walk in the Spirit.  As he contrasts the fruit of the Spirit with the works of the flesh, of course I long to always display the fruit of the Spirit.  Why do I so often succumb to the flesh?  While we know many of the theological reasons for this, the church has to face an issue that wives do every day: submission.  Submitting to God’s word is foundational to walking in the Spirit.  God’s Holy Spirit gives the Christian both the desire and power to do this.  When we all agree, submission sounds good and dandy; but when we disagree, it is a painful process.  Submission cannot be a fake, outward veneer.  It begins in the reliance on the sufficiency of Christ.  My complete trust in Christ is the only way I will choose his way for his glory.  This principle gets even trickier when we are sinned against.  How do we react?  Strauch reminds us, “When people, whether they are believers or unbelievers, abuse or persecute us, we are to respond with the most positive, proactive display of love possible.  Jesus does not call us to be passive martyrs who merely grin and bear it; we are to actively ‘bless’ those who wrong us and not ‘curse’ them (Rom. 12:14; 1 Pet. 3:9)!  Our Lord wants us to pray that God would have mercy on and change the hearts of those who persecute and abuse us (p. 29).”  We want that fruit of the Spirit, but we cannot produce it ourselves.  We are dependent upon his Spirit in prayer.  He produces his fruit within us.  And even though this kind of pruning can be painful at first, the fruit is joy in the end.  Joy in love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).   Of course these are all attributes of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.