She’s patient with her children when they are slow to learn what she wants them to learn. She keeps teaching them what is right, confident that God will be faithful to bring the fruit of repentance in their lives in His time. She doesn’t react to their sin in anger, and she’s genuinely joyful as she goes about her day, managing her household. Her life reflects a desire to serve her husband and children, even when it means putting her own interests aside for a time. She has a sense of peace with who she is, and she’s not worried that she doesn’t look like any other supermom.
Let’s ask her the secret of her success. What do you think she will say?
What’s my secret? I’m not sure what you mean. Oh…….. you mean the secret of the love, joy, and peace? There’s more, too! Longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control. I couldn’t be a good mother without those things, but it’s not my secret. It’s the Holy Spirit working in my life.
We don’t have to be perfect. We don’t have to be superwoman. It’s not magic, but it is hard work. It’s called walking in the spirit, and it’s something that every child of God who has the Holy Spirit inside her has access to. I used to think that was something unattainable, something mystical that I had to wait for until God gave it to me. I’m learning that this is not the case.
Compare these two passages from Paul. They are what we call parallel passages– Paul is telling two different groups of people the same thing. But he doesn’t use exactly the same words. Looking at the different ways Paul uses to explain something can help us understand him better. Look for the main difference that you see:
And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God. [That’s from Ephesians 5:18-21.]
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. [That’s from Colossians 3:16-17]
See the command in the Ephesians passage: be filled in the spirit. That’s a little ambiguous, perhaps. We don’t know how to do that. But the second passage gives us a little more insight– Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom. That makes more sense to me. Why? Because God is very clear that the tool the Holy Spirit uses is the word of God (remember– it’s the sword of the spirit).
So. Does that mean that I need to be spending five hours a day reading my Bible? Perhaps. But look back at the passages. How much scripture isn’t really the issue there. It’s the essence of wisdom– how scripture changes us, how the Holy Spirit controls us. And make no mistake: walking in the spirit is a habit. A spirit-enabled habit to be sure, but a habit nonetheless.
I don’t always walk in the spirit. It usually starts in the morning, when I drag my feet. when I spend more time than I should on the computer before the day gets rolling. When I leave dishes in the sink, or a bed unmade. I know I’m not walking in the spirit when I find myself irritable with my children, and when I worry about what the future holds. One wrong choice begets another.
But… one right action begets another, too. Getting up on time because it is right makes it easier for me to spend some time with God and get ready for my day. When I’m not distracted by the computer, I’m far more likely to sit down with my children and read the Bible to them during breakfast. I’m not as likely to “take a break” if I determine to wash the dishes and clean the kitchen. Sometimes I have to leave the house to walk in the spirit, and sometimes I have to stay home. Sometimes I collapse with exhaustion by noon. Often I have to ask forgiveness many times before noon. Walking in the spirit is hard work!
Pray for me, that I will walk in the spirit today.