Love is patient
Be completely humble and gentle, be patient, bearing with one another in
love. -Ephesians 4:2 NIV
Love works. It is life's most powerful motivator and has far greater
depth and meaning than most people realize. It always does what is best
for others and can empower us to face the greatest of problems. We are
born with a lifelong thirst for love. Our hearts desperately need it
like our lungs need oxygen. Love changes our motivation for living.
Relationships become meaningful with it. No marriage is successful
Love is built on two pillars that best define what it is. Those pillars
are patience and kindness. All other characteristics of
love are extensions of these two attributes. And that's where your dare
will begin. With patience.
Love will inspire you to become a patient person. When you choose to be
patient, you respond in a positive way to a negative situation. You are
slow to anger. You choose to have a long fuse instead of a quick temper.
Rather than being restless and demanding, love helps you settle down and
begin extending mercy to those around you. Patience brings an internal
calm during an external storm.
No one likes to be around an impatient person. It causes you to
overreact in angry, foolish, and regrettable ways. The irony of anger
toward a wrongful action is that it spawns new wrongs of its own.
Anger almost never makes things better. In fact, it usually
generates additional problems. But patience stops problems in
their tracks. More than biting your lip, more than clapping a hand over
your mouth, patience is a deep breath. It clears the air. It stops
foolishness from whipping its scorpion tail all over the room. It is a
choice to control your emotions rather than allowing your emotions to
control you, and shows discretion instead of returning evil for evil.
If your spouse offends you, do you quickly retaliate, or do you stay
under control? Do you find that anger is your emotional default when
treated unfairly? If so, you are spreading poison rather than medicine.
Anger is usually caused when the strong desire for something is mixed
with disappointment or grief. You don't get what you want and you start
heating up inside. It is often an emotional reaction that flows out of
our own selfishness, foolishness, or evil motives.
Patience, however, makes us wise. It doesn't rush to judgment but
listens to what the other person is saying. Patience stands in the
doorway where anger is clawing to burst in, but waits to see the whole
picture before passing judgment. The Bible says, "He who is slow to
anger has great understanding, but he who is quick-tempered exalts
folly" (Proverbs 14:29).
As sure as a lack of patience will turn your home into a war zone, the
practice of patience will foster peace and quiet. "A hot-tempered man
stirs up strife, but the slow to anger calms a dispute" (Proverbs
15:18). Statements like these from the Bible book of Proverbs are clear
principles with timeless relevance. Patience is where love meets wisdom.
And every marriage needs that combination to stay healthy.
Patience helps you give your spouse permission to be human. It
understands that everyone fails. When a mistake is made, it chooses to
give them more time than they deserve to correct it. It gives you the
ability to hold on during the tough times in your relationship rather
than bailing out under the pressure.
But can your spouse count on having a patient wife or husband to deal
with? Can she know that locking her keys in the car will be met by your
understanding rather than a demeaning lecture that makes her feel like a
child? Can he know that cheering during the last seconds of a football
game won't invite a loud-mouthed laundry list of ways he should be
spending his time? It turns out that few people are as hard to live with
as an impatient person.
What would the tone and volume of your home be like if you tried this
biblical approach: "See that no one repays another with evil for evil,
but always seek after that which is good for one another" (1
Thessalonians 5: 15).
Few of us do patience very well, and none of us do it naturally. But
wise men and women will pursue it as an essential ingredient to their
marriage relationships. That's a good starting point to demonstrate true
This Love Dare journey is a process, and the first thing you must
resolve to possess is patience. Think of it as a marathon, not a sprint.
But it's a race worth running.
The first part of this dare is fairly simple. Although love is
communicated in a number of ways, our words often reflect the condition
of our heart. For the next day, resolve to demonstrate patience and to
say nothing negative to your spouse at all. If the temptation arises,
choose not to say anything. It's better to hold your tongue than to say
something you'll regret.
___ Check here when you've completed today's dare.
Did anything happen today to cause anger toward your mate? Were you
tempted to think disapproving thoughts and to let them come out in
Love is kind
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as
God in Christ also has forgiven you. -Ephesians 4:32
Kindness is love in action. If patience is how love reacts in
order to minimize a negative circumstance, kindness is how love acts to
maximize a positive circumstance. Patience avoids a problem; kindness
creates a blessing. One is preventive, the other proactive. These two
sides of love are the cornerstones on which many of the other attributes
we will discuss are built.
Love makes you kind. And kindness makes you likeable. When you're kind,
people want to be around you. They see you as being good to them
and good for them.
The Bible keys in on the importance of kindness: "Do not let kindness
and truth leave you, bind them around your neck, write them on the
tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute in the
sight of God and man" (Proverbs 3:3-4). Kind people simply find favor
wherever they go. Even at home. But "kindness" can feel a little generic
when you try defining it, much less living it. So let's break kindness
down into four basic core ingredients:
Gentleness. When you're operating from kindness, you're careful
how you treat your spouse, never being unnecessarily harsh. You're
sensitive. Tender. Even if you need to say hard things, you'll bend over
backwards to make your rebuke or challenge as easy to hear as possible.
You speak the truth in love.
Helpfulness. Being kind means you meet the needs of the moment.
If it's housework, you get busy. A listening ear? You give it. Kindness
graces a wife with the ability to serve her husband without worrying
about her rights. Kindness makes a husband curious to discover what his
wife needs, then motivates him to be the one who steps up and ensures
those needs are met-even if his are put on hold.
Willingness. Kindness inspires you to be agreeable. Instead of
being obstinate, reluctant, or stubborn, you cooperate, you stay
flexible. Rather than complaining and making excuses, you look for
reasons to compromise and accommodate. A kind husband ends thousands of
potential arguments by his willingness to listen first rather than
demand his way.
Initiative. Kindness thinks ahead, then takes the first step. It
doesn't sit around waiting to be prompted or coerced before getting off
the couch. The kind husband or wife will be the one who greets first,
smiles first, serves first, and forgives first. They don't require the
other to get his or her act together before showing love. When acting
from kindness, you see the need, then make your move. First.
Jesus creatively described the kindness of love in His parable of the
Good Samaritan, found in the Bible-Luke, chapter 10. A Jewish man
attacked by robbers is left for dead on a remote road. Two religious
leaders, respected among their people, walk by without choosing to stop.
Too busy. Too important. Too fond of clean hands. But a common man of
another race-the hated Samaritans, whose dislike for the Jews was both
bitter and mutual-sees this stranger in need and is moved with
compassion. Crossing all cultural boundaries and risking ridicule, he
stops to help the man. Bandaging his wounds and putting him on his own
donkey, he carries him to safety and pays all his medical expenses out
of his own pocket.
Where years of racism had caused strife and division, one act of
kindness brought two enemies together. Gently. Helpfully. Willingly.
Taking the initiative, this man demonstrated true kindness in every way.
Wasn't kindness one of the key things that drew you and your spouse
together in the first place? When you married, weren't you expecting to
enjoy his or her kindness for the rest of your life? Didn't your mate
feel the same way about you? Even though the years can take the edge off
that desire, your enjoyment in marriage is still linked to the daily
level of kindness expressed.
The Bible describes a woman whose husband and children bless and praise
her. Among her noble attributes are these: "She opens her mouth in
wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue" (Proverbs 31:26).
How about you? How would your husband or wife describe you on the
kindness meter? How harsh are you? How gentle and helpful? Do you wait
to be asked, or do you take the initiative to help? Don't wait for your
spouse to be kind first.
It is difficult to demonstrate love when you feel little to no
motivation. But love in its truest sense is not based on feelings.
Rather, love determines to show thoughtful actions even when there seems
to be no reward. You will never learn to love until you learn to
In addition to saying nothing negative to your spouse again today, do at
least one unexpected gesture as an act of kindness.
___ Check here when you've completed today's dare.
What discoveries about love did you make today? What specifically did
you do in this dare? How did you show kindness?
Love is not selfish
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love, give preference to one
another in honor. -Romans 12:10
We live in a world that is enamored with "self." The culture around us
teaches us to focus on our appearance, feelings, and personal desires as
the top priority. The goal, it seems, is to chase the highest level of
happiness possible. The danger from this kind of thinking, however,
becomes painfully apparent once inside a marriage relationship.
If there were ever a word that basically means the opposite of love, it
is selfishness. Unfortunately it is something that is ingrained
into every person from birth. You can see it in the way young children
act, and often in the way adults mistreat one another. Almost every
sinful action ever committed can be traced back to a selfish motive. It
is a trait we hate in other people but justify in ourselves. Yet you
cannot point out the many ways your spouse is selfish without admitting
that you can be selfish too. That would be hypocritical.
Why do we have such low standards for ourselves but high expectations
for our mate? The answer is a painful pill to swallow. We are all
When a husband puts his interests, desires, and priorities in front of
his wife, that's a sign of selfishness. When a wife constantly complains
about the time and energy she spends meeting the needs of her husband,
that's a sign of selfishness. But love "does not seek its own" (1
Corinthians 13:5). Loving couples-the ones who are enjoying the full
purpose of marriage-are bent on taking good care of the other flawed
human they get to share life with. That's because true love looks for
ways to say "yes."
One ironic aspect of selfishness is that even generous actions can be
selfish if the motive is to gain bragging rights or receive a reward. If
you do even a good thing to deceitfully manipulate your husband or wife,
you are still being selfish. The bottom line is that you either make
decisions out of love for others or love for yourself.
Love is never satisfied except in the welfare of others. You can't be
acting out of real love and selfishness at the same time. Choosing to
love your mate will cause you to say "no" to what you want so you can
say "yes" to what they need. That's putting the happiness of your
partner above your own. It doesn't mean you can never experience
happiness, but you don't negate the happiness of your spouse so you can
enjoy it yourself.
Love also leads to inner joy. When you prioritize the well-being of your
mate, there is a resulting fulfillment that cannot be duplicated by
selfish actions. This is a benefit that God created and reserves for
those who genuinely demonstrate love. The truth is, when you relinquish
your rights for the sake of your mate, you get a chance to lose yourself
to the greater purpose of marriage.
Nobody knows you as well as your spouse. And that means no one will be
quicker to recognize a change when you deliberately start sacrificing
your wants and wishes to make sure his or her needs are met.
If you find it hard to sacrifice your own desires to benefit your
spouse, then you may have a deeper problem with selfishness than you
want to admit.
Ask yourself these questions:
Do I truly want what's best for my husband or wife?
Do I want them to feel loved by me?
Do they believe I have their best interests in mind?
Do they see me as looking out for myself first?
Whether you like it or not, you have a reputation in the eyes of those
around you, especially in the eyes of your spouse. But is it a loving
reputation? Remember, your marriage partner also has the challenge of
loving a selfish person. So determine to be the first to demonstrate
real love to them, with your eyes wide open. And when all is said and
done, you'll both be more fulfilled.
"Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind
regard one another as more important than yourselves" (Philippians 2:3).
Whatever you put your time, energy, and money into will become more
important to you. It's hard to care for something you are not investing
in. Along with restraining from negative comments, buy your spouse
something that says, "I was thinking of you today."
___ Check here when you've completed today's dare.
What did you choose to give your spouse? What happened when you gave it?
Excerpted from "The Love Dare" by Stephen Kendrick. Copyright © 0 by Stephen Kendrick. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.