Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Convicted by the Law of Kindness

Leslie Basham: What would you do if you were in this woman’s situation?

Dorothy: I’ve been married for 55 years, and my husband has never really met my needs. When I had been married about 20 years, many people had said I should get a divorce, and I said that’s not God’s way.

Leslie: Today we’ll hear Dorothy’s story. This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, February 3. We’re in the middle of a series called How’s Your Love Life? Nancy’s been teaching through 1 Corinthians 13, encouraging us to hold a biblical standard of love.

Today we’ll hear from a woman who’s been listening along with us. She has a lot to say about love and commitment. Here’s Nancy to introduce our guest.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Dorothy, we were talking just a bit ago and you shared with me a story that I thought was so precious and such a powerful illustration of the kind of love that we’ve been talking about in this series. The kind of love that’s patient and long-suffering. Will you share with these ladies just a little bit of what you were telling me?

Dorothy: Well, before this meeting today, the Lord had been talking to me. I had asked Him to show me the things in my heart that stand in the way of real use for Him. He showed me that I am impatient, a very impatient person. It shows in the way I treat my husband. He has Alzheimer’s. I have to repeat things to him several times, and I get real impatient.

He never seems to hear me until I sound angry. I just hate myself for that. I just hate it that I sound like that. I had asked the Lord to help me to learn to have His patience so that I really treat Mel as He wants me to treat him, as He treats him, as He loves him. He’s made him that way.

I’ve been married for 55 years, and my husband has never really met my needs. When I had been married about 20 years, many people said I should get a divorce, and I said that’s not God’s way. I was convicted that I didn’t love him as I ought.

I had gone to this pastor and this was the first time I ever saw God in another person. I said to him, “I’m really convicted. I don’t love my husband as I ought.” He just looked at me and said, “Jesus is in you, isn’t He?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “He’ll love him through you.”

So I went home and I prayed every day, every morning. I said, “Lord, love my husband through me.” You know, I woke up one morning and I was in love with him. It was just so amazing that God will do that, that He answers prayer like that.

That’s where I am now with the Alzheimer’s. At this point, I am angry and upset first before I respond to him. I really regret that. I pray God will change it.

Nancy: Well, Dorothy, you’ve taken a huge first step toward dealing with that issue. As I listen to your story, you’ve loved this man for 55 years, learned to love him with the love of God. You’ve been faithful. You’ve had a love that endures, and it bears, and it perseveres.

It sounds like now God is giving you a new opportunity, a new test to grow in a new level of love. The same love that that pastor told you about 35 years ago, Jesus living in you. You went home and said, “Jesus, love my husband through me.” It sounds to me like that’s exactly the way that God wants to work in your life today. Now in this new situation, you have that same Jesus living in you.

Dorothy: I need to start praying again.

Nancy: The opportunity is now fresh for you to say, “Lord, You’ve loved through me all these years. Now in this test when my husband is in this difficult physical condition, would You love my husband through me?” As He’s done it all these years, I’m going to believe He will for you now. That’s where the rubber hits the road, isn’t it?

By the way, older women—do you think you would qualify, Dorothy, as an older woman? [Laughter] Older women are supposed to teach younger women, and many of us in this room are younger than Dorothy. What are they supposed to teach the younger women? How to love their husbands.

Dorothy, you just fulfilled the Word of God by sharing out of your life with us, by mentoring and discipling and teaching us. You have a message there that I don’t have when you shared out of your life message. God wants us not just to spectate when we hear older women share out of their lives, but to say, “Lord, what am I supposed to learn?”

Older women are supposed to teach. What are younger women supposed to do? Learn. There may be a younger woman in this room that God’s saying to you, your husband doesn’t have Alzheimer’s, but you’re impatient. You tend to be angry with him.

If God is speaking to your heart about that, maybe in the way of your relationship with Him, in your spiritual usefulness, then be quick to say, “Yes, Lord. I agree with You.” That’s what confession is. And then to say, “Change me. I repent. Fill me with Your Spirit. Make me a lover, long-suffering as You are long-suffering with me.”

Dorothy, you’ve shared with us that your husband has Alzheimer’s. How long has he been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s?

Dorothy: Maybe six years. Five or six years. I can’t remember. He’s still in pretty good shape. The bad days aren’t here yet, and that’s what scares me. I need God’s patience before those days come.

He’s able to go to a senior center. He’s able to come to church. He’s able to do most everything for himself. But he can’t reason, and his short-term memory is shot. I had to leave him a note today. He asked me where I was going, and I knew he wouldn’t remember. I had to tell him approximately what time I would be home and those kinds of things. His caretaking is at that level, but nothing compared to what it can become.

Nancy: Aren’t you glad that you don’t need grace today for what it will be in a year or six years from now?

Dorothy: God provides.

Nancy: He provides what you need for today.

Dorothy: Right. He provides each day what I need, and He only asks us one step at a time.

Nancy: That’s exactly what you’re doing is taking one step at a time.

Dorothy: It’s all I can do.

Nancy: Dorothy, some people would hear about what you're facing and they would say, “Wow, it’s understandable that in a situation like that you would be impatient or angry.” In fact, a lot of people would say it’s justified to be angry or impatient. But you said that God convicted you that this was not right. How is that?

Dorothy: I think it is understandable in the fleshly realm, but that’s not where I want to live. The Lord wants me to live a spiritual life. He wants to live in my body. He’s perfect, and that’s a big challenge.

Nancy: Yet aren’t you glad that He has mercy for us when we’re not perfect?

Dorothy: He is merciful.

Nancy: What do you do when you blow it?

Dorothy: God is so merciful. When I think that He loves us so much, not only that He died, that it broke the Godhead. The only time they had no fellowship with one another was during the time on the cross. We worry about all of this bombing and all of these things that are going on around us and all that evil and we shudder. Jesus became all of that to die for us.

I’m overwhelmed by His love and His mercy. His mercy is so great. He became what we even on the human level abhor and yet because He’s perfect, we have no idea the sacrifice He made.

Nancy: Thank you, Lord, for the honesty, the refreshing honesty of this precious sister and how her life illustrates the kind of love that so few wives understand today. Thank you for teaching her all those years ago how to love her husband by faith and how You have given her an incredible, supernatural love for her husband.

Now when she asked You if there was anything standing in the way of her relationship with You, Lord, her spiritual usefulness, You pointed out to her before she even came to hear this series. You showed her there was a lack of love. She was being impatient and angry with her husband. As we listened to her tell this, all of us feel naturally that if we were in her shoes, we would have that same struggle. Our flesh would also want to be impatient and angry. We might not do as well with it as she has.

But she doesn’t want to just survive. She doesn’t want to just cope. She wants to be not a victim but a victor in this relationship. So I pray that you would empty her of herself. Empty her of that selfish, angry, impatient response.

You’re speaking to our own hearts, and we realize there are situations where we are prone to be impatient and angry. We’re not long-suffering, and I pray that You would cause us to be as honest as this sister has been.

Leslie: Nancy will be back in a moment, but first let me tell you how to get a copy of Dorothy’s story. It comes as part of the series called How’s Your Love Life? We’ll send you a copy on CD when you donate any amount to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. We’ll include Nancy’s booklet also called How’s Your Love Life?

The love quiz and Bible study in this booklet will help you make this message personal. You can donate at ReviveOurHearts.com, or ask for the booklet and CDs when you donate by calling 1-800-569-5959.

Now let’s get back to Nancy and this teaching series, How’s Your Love Life?

Nancy: We’ve been looking at one of the most important subjects in all of God’s Word, and that’s the matter of our love life. We’ve been taking a love test and looking in 1 Corinthians 13 at some of the qualities, the characteristics of love, and then seeking to evaluate our own lives in the light of this truth.

We’ve said that as a diamond is a symbol of enduring love, in order to find out if there are little flaws in that diamond that would make it less valuable, the jeweler takes a magnifying glass and magnifies that diamond up to ten times so that he can see things that might escape detection. We’re letting God’s Word be that magnifying glass, putting our lives under the light so that we can see, "Lord, are there cracks, are there flaws, are there defects in my love life—my love for God and my love for others?

We’ve challenged each other to read and to memorize this passage from 1 Corinthians chapter 13, and I suggested that you commit yourself for the next 30 days to read 1 Corinthians chapter 13 out loud every day at least once a day. You may want to do it in the morning and again in the evening so you can see how your day was in light of this test. But to read it out loud and to let God begin to work this passage into our hearts.

I’ve also suggested that we commit ourselves to memorize at least that middle paragraph, verses 4 through 7, where Paul describes 15 characteristics, the different facets of this diamond, this many-splendored thing of God’s love.

Let me read that passage. Throughout the course of this series I’m going to read that paragraph several times. I’ll read it from some different translations so that you can get a feel of some different meanings or ways of understanding these words. Reading now from the New King James version, beginning in verse 4 of 1 Corinthians chapter 13.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, [love] is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; [love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

We looked in our last session at the fact that love is patient. Love is long-suffering. Love does not retaliate. Now we come to the second characteristic that love is kind. One writer has said, “Patience [the first characteristic] will take anything from others, but kindness will give anything to others, even to its enemies.” Kindness is a giving love. It’s being useful, serving, and gracious. It’s active—goodwill toward others.

Remember as we take this test, if you’re like me, and you hear these characteristics, and I’ve been mulling over these for a long time before teaching these sessions. I came away from some of those study periods feeling like such a failure. There is no way I will ever be able to love in this way. I’ll never be as kind as I need to be, as patient and long-suffering as I need to be.

Actually, that’s the first key to developing the love of God, to realize that I will never be able to love that way by myself. There is nothing loving in me. No matter how long I’ve walked with Him, I will never have any natural love inside of me. How do I get that love? I have to continually acknowledge to God that I don’t have it. I have to confess it to Him and then ask Him to fill me with Himself, with His Spirit, with His love.

So love acts kindly toward others. There are some wonderful illustrations of this in the Scripture, but one that comes to mind in particular is the story of Joseph. Remember the last several chapters of Genesis how Joseph experienced one event after another at the hand of people who treated him wrongly. He was mistreated. He was misjudged. He was abused. He was misused. A lot of the abuse came at the hands of his brothers.

Years after he had first suffered at the hands of his brothers and they had been separated for years, came the time when his brothers came to Egypt. Joseph was now second in command in Egypt, and he was in a position where he could have taken vengeance on everyone who ever wronged him, including his brothers.

His brothers came to Egypt. They didn’t recognize Joseph at first, but then finally Joseph identified himself to them. The brothers, as you can imagine, must have been just terrified. "What is Joseph going to do to us?" He was powerless when we wounded him, but now he’s a very powerful man. What might he do?

Genesis chapter 45 tells us his response. He said to his brothers, “You shall dwell in the land of Goshen [it’s a special place where I have set apart for you to live], and you shall be near to me, you and your children . . . There I will provide for you, lest you and your household, and all that you have, come to poverty; for there are still five years of famine [left]” (Genesis 45:10-11).

Then the Scripture says he gave them provisions for the journey back to Israel. He gave them changes of garment, clothing, ten donkeys loaded with the good things of Egypt and ten donkeys loaded with grain, bread, and food. That’s kindness at work.

Joseph owed his brothers nothing, but instead filled with the love of God, he said, “I choose the pathway of kindness.” He gave provisions to them. He said, “I’ll meet your needs.” He did it in practical ways: food and clothes and a place to live.

Think about the person who has most wronged you. Can you imagine yourself saying, “What can we do to meet your practical, physical, material needs?" That’s kindness. I know some of us are looking a little shocked, like how could this ever be? It cannot be unless God loves others through us. The kindness of God is what motivates our kindness.

You know what the book of Romans tells us and that is that the kindness of God leads us to repentance. When God is kind to us in giving His Son for us and pouring out mercy on us and meeting our needs—our physical needs, our emotional needs, our spiritual needs when we were rebels against Him. We were His enemies. We killed His Son and God says, "Draw near to Me. I’ve got a place for you to live—in heaven forever. I’ll give you spiritual food. I’ll come into your life. I’ll eat with you and let you eat with Me. I want a relationship with you. I’ll minister to your needs." Our hearts cry out, “Oh God, we don’t deserve Your kindness. How could You be so kind to us?”

Then what happens? We are moved to repentance. Kindness. Giving to others in useful service. I think one of the places that kindness is most important and most neglected perhaps is where? Inside the four walls of our own homes. Why is it we are more kind to guests and to strangers, to visitors, than we are to those that we live with? Why do we take for granted those that we know the best?

Now if someone comes into my home and spills something on the carpet—it has happened—or makes a mess or breaks something, I’m quick to say, as you would be if I were visiting in your home, “Oh, it’s no problem.” We’re quick, I’m quick when guests come to my home to show kindness. But what about the members of my own family?

If there’s a guest in my home and she wants to talk about something that is of interest to her, I’m going to take as long as she wants to sit there and listen. I’m going to be kind and attentive. But what about when I’m with my mother, my brothers, my sisters, those that I’ve known all my life. They want to tell me a story or something that is happening in their life, and I’ve got a book that I’m more interested in reading at the moment?

Are you kind in your own home? Are you kind to those that you know the best? It’s such an important thing—doing kind acts. This is one of the things that has always marked holy women of God. Do kind acts of service with hospitality, with cards, with notes, with being sensitive to the needs of others.

I have a friend whose neighbor was hit by a truck as she was crossing the street just outside her home. My friend had never had much of a relationship with that neighbor who was not a warm person, wasn’t really interested in spiritual matters. But my friend began for months to take meals to that woman and her family every single day. Acts of kindness.

Now it’s not like she didn’t have a family of her own to take care of. She did. My friends have told me what an incredible transformation has taken place in the life of that neighbor because she has seen the love of Christ demonstrated in acts of kindness and service.

It’s not only important to have kind acts, but also to have a kind spirit in the way we do those acts. And then to speak kind words. There’s that little verse in the Proverbs—I kind of wish it wasn’t there sometimes. Proverbs chapter 31, verse 26, says of the wise or virtuous woman that “On her tongue is the law of kindness.” When she opens her mouth to speak, the words that come out are kind words. She’s slow to condemn.

I was doing a live radio interview with call-ins some time ago. One man called in to the program and said, “Can you help me? My marriage is in trouble, and one of the reasons is that my wife seems to pick apart everything I say.”

Now that’s not the context for me to help that man put his marriage back together, but I was saddened as I heard that. I don’t know any more about the situation than that, but I know that here is a man whose spirit has been wounded because of having a wife who doesn’t have the law of kindness on her tongue.

Leslie: Do you have the law of kindness on your tongue? We all need to grow in this area. It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, single or married. So I hope you’ll get a copy of Nancy’s booklet, How’s Your Love Life?

When you take the love quiz and follow along with this Bible study in your quiet time, you will find your love life growing. We’ll send you the booklet, How’s Your Love Life?, and Nancy’s current teaching series on CD when you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts. Your donation could have a big impact on women who need to hear this message. Here’s Nancy with an example.

Nancy: It’s such a joy for me to read emails and letters sharing with us how God is using this ministry to revive hearts and transform lives. Since we’re talking about How’s Your Love Life? this week, I want to share with you an email I received not too long ago from a woman who said, “I was feeling discouraged and down this morning about my marriage.” Then she proceeded to tell some of the issues, the struggles that have come into her marriage over the past year. She said,

This morning I begged God to give me strength and while I was out cleaning our barn, your radio broadcast came on. It was on continuing to love your husband and having the faith that God will give you strength. I knelt down right there in the stall and prayed with you. I thank God for helping me when I needed it so much.

Oh how I thank the Lord for reaching into that barn and helping that woman have resolve and strength to go on in her marriage with the love of Christ. That woman’s life would not have been touched as it was if it weren’t for listeners who faithfully pray for this ministry and support it financially.

We’re a listener-supported ministry. So when you give, it’s going to reach women like that woman. Women who may be today at the end of their rope and desperately in need of the message of God’s grace, His love to restore and renew their marriage.

So if the Lord has blessed you financially and you’re able to give a gift to help underwrite this ministry, I just want you to know it will mean so much, not only to me personally, but to women like that woman who may be listening now and need the message that they will hear through this series on love life.

Leslie: Make your donation at ReviveOurHearts.com, or call 1-800-569-5959.

Well, one of the greatest enemies of love is envy. We’ll hear more about that tomorrow. Please join us for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

Join the Discussion