Excellent or Praiseworthy is posted on Monday and Thursday nights.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. — Philippians 4:8
You would think after writing and editing for Excellent or Praiseworthy for six years that I would have read, heard or thought about everything to be learned from Philippians 4:8. You would think I would have exhausted the lessons from Paul’s challenge to focus on everything true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy. And taking those virtues into the arena of deployment might have been more than most thought plausible—but we have explored lessons from history, spiritual training, teaching for marriages and families, and prayer encouragement in order to focus on the challenges of military service in light of God’s truth in Scripture.
But recently I was challenged by teaching I had never considered. That is taking Philippians 4:8 into one of the most normal, everyday struggles of marriage—conflict between husband and wife.
Picture this—a husband knows that his love language is “words of affirmation.” He thrives on kudos . . . and doesn’t shrink from enjoying praise because of his good work, even godly work. Because his wife’s love language is “acts of service”, she wants his help with the work around the house—including parenting—instead of listening to what good things happened at work. But after a while he feels disrespected because of her lack of interest in his need for affirmation. After a while, she feels unloved because of his lack of desire to help with her needs.
What transpires is not a fight (well, sometimes) . . . but mostly isolation. Coldness. Distance. And before long his thought life goes to, “’She doesn’t respect you like she ought to because you’re doing big things for God, and she is just here cleaning the house.’ . . . (Satan) starts running her down in my mind, and I accepted those thoughts. And I start getting frustrated with my wife: ‘She’s not loving me, respecting me, or supporting me like I think she ought to.’”
This husband goes on to say, “In my mind, I would run her down. Sometimes, in her mind, she would run me down. Guys, you do not win those wars. We’re not fighting the right way. Instead of fighting for my marriage, I was fighting her as if she was my enemy. She is not my enemy! This is what the Lord taught me in the process.”
And lest you think this is some random guy—these words are from Alex Kendrick, producer and actor in Facing the Giants, Fireproof, Courageous . . . and author of The Love Dare. He spoke recently on the FamilyLife “Love Like You Mean It” Cruise and shared this story.
Kendrick went on to speak to those on the cruise, “Four months ago, I’m studying and getting ready to do our ramp up and do our next movie and stuff—as I’m with the Lord, and I remember I’m in His Word—and it was like He just kick-boxed me in the head: ‘Alex, you are running your wife down in your mind. She is not your enemy. The enemy wants to distract you, deceive you, and divide you. Your wife and you are one unit. Both of you are sinners, and both of you are in need of My grace.”
Feeling the Lord leading him to remember that his wife, Christina, is God’s gift to him and designed by God to have strengths which he lacked . . . Kendrick began to make a list of whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute—about Christina!
He knew that list was what he should dwell on about Christina. He said, “The list for her—the positive list—was very long. Guys—don’t run your spouse down, in your mind. . . If you are in Christ, what do you do? Follow Philippians 4:8. Your spouse is a sinner, but they are not your enemy.”
Alex Kendrick’s talk on board the ship, speaking to the 1,000 passengers gathered to hear the word of God taught and the gospel shared in the context of marriage, was so well received that it was shared with the listeners of FamilyLife Today with Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine. I took Kendrick’s teaching from the transcript of that March 3, 2014, airing to share with you.
What does this have to do with deployment? Geographic distance and the pressures of war can lead a couple to misunderstandings in communication. Happens all the time. What do you do? Instead of running your spouse down—thinking the worst—make a list. Make a list of what is true about your spouse . . . what is noble . . . what is right . . . what is pure . . . what is lovely . . . what is admirable. Like Alex Kendrick, your list is going to be long because those are the character qualities which attracted you to your husband or wife in the first place.
But sometimes we forget.
And sometimes Satan can cause trouble in a marriage.
Take the advice of the author of The Love Dare . . . and dare to love your spouse the way Christ loves them . . . with grace. And pray that they love you the same way. Think on these things.
“The One Thing” by Alex Kendrick, aired on FamilyLife Today Radio on March 3, 2014.
Questions to Share:
1. Pick at least one of the eight qualities which the Apostle Paul encourages us to think on—and list ways in which your spouse demonstrates that quality.
2. Pray for each other . . . that you would keep your mind stayed on the strengths of your spouse.