Three things will last forever--faith, hope, and love--and the greatest of these is love.~1st Corinthians 13:4-7,13 (NLT)
Wow! To love is a tall order! As much as I love my husband, when I hold my actions toward him up to this description of love from the Word of God, my reflection is dirty.
How often do we, as husbands and wives, get irritated with one another or throw up the last hurtful thing our spouse said or did to us? How often are we impatient with one another at the end of a long hard workday? How often does this impatience cause us to argue and say unkind things to each other because of, you guessed it, our wounded pride?
There have been countless times in our relationship where my husband and I have been in this situation. He comes home after spending an entire day on a horribly difficult job and snaps at me. Of course, I know I haven't done anything to warrant his crankiness towards me, so my feelings and my pride get hurt.
Instead of taking the time to remember Proverbs 15:1, 'A SOFT answer turneth away wrath; but grievous words stir up anger', I almost always let my pride get the better of me. My replies usually go something like this, "Well, I'm sorry if you've had a bad day, but don't come in this house and take it out on me!" or "It's not my fault you got stuck with a crappy job today. Dinner's in the kitchen and you can fix your OWN plate tonight!"
These responses don't sound like love. They certainly don't sound patient or kind. In light of what both 1st Corinthians 13 and Proverbs 15:1 tells us, my responses should be much gentler and more understanding. I should think before I speak and look for God's guidance. Then, perhaps my response would be something more like this, "I'm sorry if you've had a bad day. Why don't you come in the kitchen and let me fix your plate? You'll feel better after you've had a chance to relax and get a good meal." Now, not only does that IMMEDIATELY take the wind out of his cranky mood, I feel much better because I have responded the way God wants me to.
I can hear you now. You're thinking, 'Why should I have to eat crow and be the bigger person? It really ISN'T my fault he had a bad day so he IS in the wrong!' Let's refer back to our scriptures, 1st Corinthians 13 and Proverbs 15:1, since we know and are in agreement that the Word of God would never lead us wrong. According to the Bible, love "...keeps no record of being wronged," and "...endures through every circumstance."
See? It doesn't matter who's right or wrong, because we don't keep a record of wrongs and love "...endures through every circumstance", even a bad day! If you put these truths together with Proverbs 15:1, then you have the answer to your question.
One last thing, if you're like me and tend to speak before you think, there's a scripture for that as well. Proverbs 10:19 tells us that, "In a multitude of words there wanteth not sin; but he that refraineths his lips is wise." An even better translation comes from the New Living Translation. "Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut."
Keeping my mouth shut when I am angry or my feelings are hurt is so hard for me to do. I automatically want to strike out and make the other person hurt as well. I have to pray and ask God to give me a quiet and gentle spirit, one that is slow to anger and abounding in love and kindness, to help me think before I speak and consider my words before I let them leave my mouth.
I am not perfect, but I am SAVED. I am God's work in progress and so are you! Keep moving toward the goal of perfect love with prayer and an open heart. Keep studying God's word with ears to hear it and a heart that longs to practice it, and before you know it, you and the people around you, especially your spouse will notice the difference!