Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. —Romans 12:10
I remember that first night at church with our HomeBuilders Bible study for couples entitled “Building Your Marriage.” This was our first of eight sessions with a large group of couples, many of whom we knew. The introductory lesson was on the #1 thing that prevents a couple from oneness and leads to isolation—selfishness. Our HomeBuilder couples seemed to be surprised that we jumped right into the #1 problem that couples face in marriage before starting to build on the seven steps to oneness. The questions we asked that first night included: “What are some ways selfishness is displayed in marriage?” “What relationship do you see between selfishness and isolation?” “What is the effect of isolation on marriage?” It’s a tough way to begin a Bible study on marriage, but absolutely imperative.
By the end of the first session of “Building Your Marriage” most couples realize that we are serious about marriage—what makes it work, and what can hurt it. Selfishness can destroy a relationship. So it shouldn’t surprise any of us that The Love Dare addresses selfishness early on in the book—it’s that important. The writers announce, “If there were ever a word that basically means the opposite of love, it is selfishness.” (p. 11) And the grim reality is that we are all selfish. We’re born that way. If you have your book, please read this chapter more than once—it’s that important.
If you are familiar with 1 Corinthians 13 in the New Testament—the “love chapter”—you know that these verses are a beautiful and timeless description of what love does. It is often read at weddings, perhaps even at yours. We would do well to read it from time to time, just as a reminder. You could put your name in the spot where it says, “Love”, and read “John is patient, John is kind. John does not envy . . . . .” and so forth. If those things are true, that’s great. But if they’re not then you have something to work on. Don’t we all!
But keep reading past all of those familiar verses and you’ll come to 1 Corinthians 13:11. It reads, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.” Do you see what the obvious question for today is, “Have you put childish ways behind you?” Do you put others needs ahead of your own? Do you share? Are you treating others the way you would like to be treated?
Have you grown up? Are you treating your spouse as the precious gift from God that they are to you?
Honestly I find most military families to be unselfish. There is a lot of teamwork that comes with being in the military, and loving a military member. So perhaps this day isn’t difficult for you.
Here is today’s dare during deployment: The book says to buy something for your spouse that will show them that you were thinking of them. When you’re deployed, that’s trickier—but an even greater demonstration of love when you accomplish it! If you have the opportunity to buy something to mail that will show your spouse that you were thinking of them—great. But if not, try to find something that you can put in the mail which would show them that your thoughts are of them. If mailing is not an option, try ordering over the internet (if possible) or somehow enlisting a neighbor or friend to make a special delivery. The object is to go out of your way to demonstrate that you are thinking of your spouse in a generous way.
I know one service member who even put the wooden spoon from his ice cream dessert in an envelope—with a short loving message written on the spoon. Be creative! The whole idea is to do something for them!
Here are Scriptures to encourage you in truth:
For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. — James 3:16
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. — Philippians 2:3,4
Kendrick, Stephen and Alex, The Love Dare (Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 2008)
Rainey, Dennis, Building Your Marriage (Little Rock: FamilyLife, 1989)