(Love) does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth.
— 1 Corinthians 13:6
When are you most proud of your spouse? Is it when they have won a well-earned award for some important accomplishment? Or is it when they take the opportunity to pray with you across the miles—by email or phone—or when they help you think through how to handle a tough situation in a Christ-like manner? In Day 34 of The Love Dare, the authors write, “Love rejoices most in the things that please God. When your mate is growing in Christian character, persevering in faith, seeking purity, and embracing roles of giving and service—becoming spiritually responsible in your home—the Bible says we should be celebrating it.” (p. 167) Are you doing that?
Years ago there was a saying meant to be derogatory to Christians—ridiculing their innocence as if to say that because of naivete they could not see or understand earthly problems. It went something like this, “You’re so heavenly-minded that you’re no earthly good!” In answer to that negative comment I heard a well-known preacher say that his concern, as a pastor, was when his parishioners were so earthly-minded that they were no heavenly good! It is the things of God, not the things of the earth, which should grab our attention and hold it, so that the demonstrations of the fruit of the Spirit would be evident in our lives.
I knew of an Air Force fighter pilot who proposed to his wife with long-stem red roses—one for each of those nine demonstrations of the fruit of the Spirit. On each stem there was a card tied to it which told how he saw that character trait in her. He wrote how he saw in her love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22,23) and added, “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” (Proverbs 31:29). She said, “Yes!”
I have found no better way to encourage a Christ-follower than to tell them how I see Christ in their actions. For example: “Thank you for your patience with your children while your husband is in Iraq.” “The kindness that you are showing your neighbors while their spouses are deployed is a beautiful demonstration of how Christians are to care for one another.” “I know this is a difficult time for you, but your faithfulness to your wife is a model for others to follow.” “The way you are so peaceful during these stressful times really encourages me in my own walk with the Lord.” “I see self-control demonstrated in you when you choose to avoid the party-scene when your spouse is gone.” The fruit of living the Christian life, filled with the Holy Spirit, is evident in so many ways in the walk of one who is clinging to their faith! If we can encourage our friends with their Christ-likeness, how much better when we see righteousness displayed in our spouse! That’s the time to write or phone and tell them how grateful you are for their spiritual investment in your marriage!
Here is today’s dare during deployment: Think of one recent example of how your spouse demonstrated Christian character. Thank them for that, and encourage them to persevere in it while you are geographically separated so you can both benefit from their spiritual growth.
Here are Scriptures to encourage you in truth:
Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil. — Romans 16:19
We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing. Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. — 2 Thessalonians 1:3,4
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” — Matthew 6:19
For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. — 1 Timothy 4:18
Kendrick, Stephen and Alex, The Love Dare (Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 2008)