“If I could speak all the languages of the earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” -1 Cor. 13:1
Go with the flow. The ambition of most is to keep up with popular trends and be socially acceptable. Unfortunately, our social evolution is a severe regression of the generation prior. It stems from evidence found in Genesis. This morning I read where Babylonians built a tower for themselves to magnify their greatness which was a blatant disregard for God. I’ve seen a mutation of this attitude run rampant in our culture today. All the girlfriends get together to complain about the men and this is the longstanding petition: “Think about yourself; what makes you happy?” As if all of life should be centered on our own happiness. This fickle emotion is fleeting. To base a relationship on happiness leaves many marriages in a tumultuous spin. It is becoming more common for relationships to end based on, “He doesn’t make me happy anymore.” Hear the selfishness dripping from that comment? No longer does, “Till death do us part” apply. Sadly, it would be more appropriate for those vows to be rewritten as, “Till I don’t feel like it anymore,” “Till it gets too hard,” or “Till I’m bored with you.” It devastates our morals and family values when divorce is such a quick and easy commodity. Why work at it if we can just turn him in for a newer, more exciting model? We put so much emphasis on what we can get out of the relationship. We can’t expect our relationships to look any different from those in the rest of society with this attitude.
First, it is selfish to base our relationships on what we get from the other person. There is another person—of equal value and importance—whose emotions and needs should be considered. He is loved by the Creator of the world; he is made in God’s glorious image. He deserves respect. How can we be so careless in these relationships? Are we leaving these guys better or worse at the end? We are accountable for how we interact in relationships. Each relationship is a gift. Learn from the opposite sex; see a different side of God’s character through that masculine being.
Second, it is unhealthy to be dependent in relationships. We can’t expect our partners to fulfill us. Some jump from relationship to relationship as frantically as possible to prevent an ounce of loneliness from seeping into their lives. We shouldn’t be afraid of being alone. Truth of the matter is that we are never alone (“I am with you always even to the end of the age.” Matt. 28:20b). It would be so beneficial for us to spend a good chunk of time evaluating break-ups and our attitudes. It is important to take time to heal from painful situations. It is not the next guy’s job to make us feel worthy.
What does God’s best look like? Of course it will be unique for each individual, but it will follow a set a guidelines God has created in order to protect us. We cannot simply fall into a right relationship; we bring the right relationship from our experiences. This relationship reflects the greatest relationship of all: Christ and His church. Christ gave Himself for the sake of others. The church responds for the glory of Christ. Both are selfless. What we learn from our personal relationships with God prepares us for personal relationships with people. In Him we find contentment, no matter the situation. In Him we find our confidence, our purpose, and our freedom. Everything we do centers around what we understand about God, ourselves, and the value of other people. If we don’t have a proper understanding of those things our relationships will continually crumble and fall short. It starts with understanding who God is. Only then can we understand ourselves and other people. God created each and every individual on this planet. He created all in His image and of equal value. If we could get past our selfishness we would treat others more like Christ has called us.
“We know what real love is because Jesus gave up His life for us. So we ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.” (1 John 3:16)
“This is real love—not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” (1 John 4:10)
And this is just a taste. Christ is love. Inevitably, that means it starts with a concern for others… not our own happiness.