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Monday, July 23, 2012

"The Fruitful Wife" (Hayley DiMarco)

TITLE: The Fruitful Wife
AUTHOR: Hayley DiMarco
PUBLISHER: Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012, (208 pages).

What does it mean to be a fruitful wife? What have we to show after all of our years on earth? What if we feel barren in terms of fruits? Are we depending on natural human strength or divine power? Have we become too distracted by work that we forget the Divine Provider of all things? These questions and many more are dealt with in this fascinating book by Hayley DiMarco.

This book is not about the perfect woman, but a woman filled with the Spirit of God to bear fruit. It is about looking and abiding in the Provider of good fruit so that others can be blessed. It is about the work of the Holy Spirit helping us to provide (not destroy), give, flourish, and to honour God. The key point is that any fruit needs to be sustained by God, and not by our own works. This is set against the nine fruits of the flesh: "selfishness, joylessness, conflict, impatience, mercilessness, immorality, unfaithfulness, pride, and self-indulgence."

"So the fruit of the Spirit  isn't about pleasure or pleasing self at all, but about denying self and giving all to the glory to God. It's about needing nothing for ourselves from the fruit we produce. It's truly unconditional, meant to serve the will of God. This fruit comes not only from the goodness of our hearts but from the goodness of the Spirit of God, who lives in our hearts." (18)

The author then dedicates a chapter each to love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. On love, the author stresses that this is the foundation of all fruits. Likewise without the other expressions of love, love itself is imperfect. A key point is that love is not a good feel and good response on our part, but a response to the Spirit's prompting our heart. For DiMarco, the opposite of love is not hate, but selfishness. Then there is joy contrasted with joylessness. Joy is reliant on the perfect nature of God. Peace contrasted with conflict, has to do with a reconciled relationship with God. Patience is first contrasted with impatience, and then defined as something beyond simply the ability to wait, but the "temptation to resist playing god." Kindness is contrasted with mercilessness through the description of two categories of "kindness killers" called a warped sense of justice and a fear of rejection. Kindness is grace. The sixth fruit is goodness which is essentially imitating God. Goodness is then contrasted with flesh, evil treasures, fear, and darkness.A life in Christ will naturally yield holy goodness.

Next, the fruit of faithfulness is contrasted with unfaithfulness, the latter is a "major rebellion against the laws of God." Our faithfulness to our spouses stem from our steadfast faithfulness to God. I like the way DiMarco describes faithfulness as the "seed of belief for the faithless." Eight, gentleness in contrast to pride, is a sense of calm and trust that is not easily dislodges by circumstances. Finally, self-control is the anti-thesis of self-indulgence. Self-control is empowered by the Holy Spirit to give oneself the ability to exercise self-restraint and a refusal to indulge oneself in selfish desires.

My Thoughts

There are many wonderful insights in this book that firstly explains what the fruit of the Spirit is. By contrasting it with a corresponding fruit of the flesh, it gives readers an idea of what is and what is not. Such a dialectical argument prepares readers to find out the real deal. The fruit of the Spirit is simply the fruit that comes out of a Spirit-filled individual. The initiative is God's. The benefit is for others. The glory is God's. The chapters have been laid out with a specific fruit and make excellent material for a fruit by fruit study. Groups can benefit from the many wise examples in the book. Individuals can be encouraged. Even though the book is meant primarily for women, there is no reason why men cannot learn from this book.The principles are universal, and any gender specific stuff is minimal.

The main disappointment I have is the lack of discussion questions to accompany the end of each chapter. Perhaps, the author or publisher can include one, with additional references for future reading or research. Overall, this book is a good read with highly practical teachings.

Ratin: 4.25 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by Crossway Publishers and NetGalley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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