Love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire. — Song of Solomon 8:6
Jealousy is one of those things that can be a bad thing if demonstrated in a non-loving way. In other words, as The Love Dare says, “There are actually two forms: a legitimate jealousy based upon love, and an illegitimate jealousy based upon envy.” (p. 36) We know that there are many biblical warnings against jealousy based upon envy, but on the other hand it refers to God as a jealous God who is love.
So the lesson today speaks of God’s jealousy as being for His people because He loves us so much and wants for us to keep Him first. But the lesson also speaks a great warning to those who would be jealous of someone who has something that you want. That kind of jealousy can lead to bitterness and anger if not tempered by learning to love others. No doubt you have all seen couples whose marriages have been crippled by jealousy—it’s not pretty. As the book says, “It is time to let love, humility, and gratefulness destroy any jealousy that springs up in your heart. It’s time to let your mate’s successes draw you closer together and give you greater opportunities to show genuine love.” (p. 38)
To that end, the authors want to remind us that we should be our spouse’s greatest cheerleaders—to encourage them on to greater chances to excel. If we can do that, we have taken a step away from selfishness (there’s that word again!) and towards oneness.
Here’s the dare for the day, during deployment: Take yesterday’s list of negative attributes and destroy it. Then email, write, or telephone your spouse to tell them how glad you are about a recent success that they have achieved. If, because you are experiencing deployment, you don’t know what a recent success might be, be sure and ask them something like this, “I want to be your cheerleader. Would you share with me something you have accomplished lately that you are particularly proud of—because I want to tell you that I am proud of you, too.”
On FamilyLife’s webpage there is a daily journal of one woman’s experience doing The Love Dare. Here is what she writes about Day 8: “Today’s challenge was to destroy the negative list I made yesterday. Destroying the list was easy—I just tossed the piece of notebook paper into the chimera and the flames blackened it to ash in the wink of an eye. Then I prayed that my negativity would disappear just as quickly. I’ve held onto hurt for a long time, but I realized my hurt has been tying us to a place we need to move beyond and rise above. I must watch that Satan doesn’t stir the ashes to try to spark the fear.”
I believe that what she has shared has a message for all of us.
Here are some Scriptures to encourage you in truth:
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. — Galatians 5:24-26
Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. — Romans 13:13,14
For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. — James 3:16
Love believes all things, hopes all things. — 1 Corinthians 13:7
Today we’re going to get very specific. The lesson and dare today are going to take you into two rooms—the “Appreciation Room” and the “Depreciation Room.” If you needed a day to focus on a definite task, today is that day. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, or what you are involved in—you can do this.
Let’s start in the metaphor of the “Appreciation Room.” That’s where your thoughts go when you remember positive and encouraging things about your spouse that you appreciate. In this “Room” you will find written on the walls the characteristics which attracted you to him or her in the first place and what you have grown to admire. Have you forgotten? Hopefully you see words like “diligent,” “laughs at my jokes,” “great cook,” “pretty eyes.” And when you spend time in this Room, thinking about these good attributes, your gratitude for your spouse grows.
But down the corridor of your heart is a darker place. The authors of The Love Dare call it the “Depreciation Room.” They write, “This room is lined with the weaknesses and failures of your husband or wife. . . . Emotional injuries fester here, adding more scathing remarks to the walls. It’s where ammunition is kept for the next big fight and bitterness is allowed to spread like a disease. . . . Spending time in the Depreciation Room kills marriages.” (p. 32)
Can you picture these two rooms? Now, let love direct you into the “Appreciation Room” and stop your lingering in the “Depreciation Room.” Because love is going to choose the better way, and “love chooses to believe the best about people. It gives them the benefit of the doubt. . . . As much as possible, love focuses on the positive.” (p. 33)
But what if all of the negative things written on the walls are true? Aren’t the positive things written on the walls also true? Think about it—wouldn’t you want your spouse to remember you in positive ways while you are geographically separated? Why not do the same about them? Love would . . .
Here’s how love would handle the things written on the walls of the “Depreciation Room”—the same way Jesus handles them. The authors (Stephen and Alex Kendrick) remind us that He writes across all of those things, “COVERED IN LOVE!” He has forgiven . . . . and we must, too. And we must pray for our spouse. So peek in the room if you must, but only to know how to pray and to cover the walls in the writing of forgiveness.
Here’s the dare for the day, during deployment: Take out two sheets of paper, one to write down the positive things about your spouse and the other to write down the negative things. Put them away in a safe, secret place—we will return to them at a later date. But as you are writing down the positive things, choose one and write or tell your spouse how much you appreciate them for that.
Here are some Scriptures to encourage you in truth:
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
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together
Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city. — Proverbs 16:32 (NLT)
I really appreciate the authors’ definition of “irritable” in Day 6 of The Love Dare. They write, “People who are irritable are locked, loaded, and ready to overreact.” (p. 26) Then they complete the chapter with a good analysis of what can bring us to that point—one of those factors being stress. But deployment is spelled s—t—r—e—s—s! Right? So does that give us an “easy out”? Since we’re under stress because of the wartime separation, we can justify being irritable??
Not so fast—as the authors get more specific and actually say that there are different kinds of stress that can bring on crankiness (is that a better word for it?). The bottom line is that they want to encourage us to put margin into our schedule so we can better prioritize and pace ourselves. Well . . . . with deployment it’s kinda’ hard to manage the pressure we’re under with better discipline of our schedule!! It’s a great concept, though, so we want to look at it creatively during the dare.
The other factor that they write about is selfishness. That pesky word keeps coming up!! Here’s exactly how they word it, “When you’re irritable, the heart of the problem is primarily a problem of the heart. . . .Being easily angered is an indicator that a hidden area of selfishness or insecurity is present where love is supposed to rule.” (p. 27, 28) They continue on and say that selfishness can show itself as lust, bitterness, greed, and pride. “These motivations can never be satisfied. But when love enters your heart, it calms you down and inspires you to quit focusing on yourself. It loosens your grasp and helps you let go of unnecessary things.” (p. 28)
In summary, the Kendricks want us to approach this battle against irritability from the two fronts of stress and selfishness: (1) Stress–The Love Dare challenges the participant to make a list of areas where you need to add margin to your schedule. But chances are strong that you have little control over your schedule. Here are some questions for you to evaluate: What are you doing with the down time that you do have? Are you using it to build a loving marital relationship with constructive efforts at communication and responsible actions? Or are you wasting that time, perhaps ignoring good chances for communication with your spouse or choosing irresponsible behavior? (2) Selfishness–The Love Dare is emphatic that we make a list of any wrong motives that we need to release—those things that are underlying selfish behavior (lust, bitterness, greed, pride).
Here’s the dare for the day, during deployment: (1) Make a list of things you can do to improve your use of any quiet moments you might have. (2) Pick a time when you have recently overreacted. What was the real motivation behind that? What one thing could you do to take a step away from selfishness and towards forgiveness, gratitude, or contentment?
Here are some Scriptures to encourage you in truth:
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. — James 4:1-3
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. — Philippians 4:6, 7
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. — Ephesians 4:31, 32
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. — 1 Timothy 6:10
All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the LORD. — Proverbs 16:2