Session XVI of Love and Relationships!
Reread 1 Corinthians 13 in a diffent translation then before. Then read the following section discussing it and take your time answering the questions:
We have already explored what love is, and what God's Word has to say. But, what about the other influencers that may be rattling around in our heads? Does it measure up to Scripture, or is it a myth? Let us look at some of the common sayings, from American culture, portraying love:
· Love conquers all!
· Love is enough.
· All you need is love! (By the way, that did not work for the Beatles, did it?)
· If it is true love, you will know it right away!
· If you love me, you will _______.
· I want to know what love is!
· The perfect Mr. or Mrs. "Right" will fulfill you completely!
· Having a strong sexual attraction is a sign of true love!
· I'll do my half if you _______.
· If you really love someone, you will have sex with him/her within the first month of dating!
Music, TV, movies, friends, and fairy tales all teach us, in different and creative ways, how to love. But, have you considered that they teach us the wrong ideas of love and relationships?
A look at some "sayings":
Does love conquer all? Well, this is just not so! If it were, we would have a very low divorce rate, because, I have never seen a marriage take place where the couple were not in love, or at least thought they were in love. Yet, over fifty percent of them are divorced within five years! If love were enough, those marriages would have worked out; obviously, love is not enough! Love, by itself, cannot hold you together. As we discovered in the last few chapters, most people do not know what love is, nor are they able or willing to apply the characteristics of love that we discussed in the last chapter. They forget that love will place the interest of the other first; but, they do not. The feelings and ideas of what they think love is takes the place of working on the relationship. So, communication, as well as understanding and the willingness to work together to solve problems, is left out of the relationship.
In reality, there is no happily-ever-after or, riding off into the sunset together. Relationships require effort to make them work; they just do not happen. So, our favorite movies, and the romance novels do not give us proper reality; in fact, they corrupt our perspectives and thinking so we make faulty decisions. When our reality is in line with God's, and we are following His precepts, then, the adventure of the relationship becomes fun, and we can ride off into that sunset. We can enjoy life better. Just know that that sun will rise the next day, and you may still be in the maze, lost and confused-perhaps, even hurt. The effort you put in will help keep you on the right path of developing that good relationship, as well as finding, and keeping the love of your life.
1. Does love conquer all?
2. Have you seen this work? Why not?
3. What are some of the things that help love to conquer?
Is it true that all you need is love? Well, again, no! This is a big myth! When the friendship-seeking and dating adventure is over, and you find yourself outside of the maze and on the right path, you still need to build your house of love. The house of love is built on the precepts of character and love that were already discussed, and further constructed with the materials we will be looking at in the coming chapters.
If all you have is love, and, let's say that it is real, authentic, Biblical love, yes, you will be doing good; however, as I have already said, most people, even committed Christians, do not operate in all of those precepts, all of the time. You will get bored when your friends never develop that relationship any further, and, you will, perhaps, go on to many more, skipping from one to another, and so forth. After you marry, just about the time you move in together, you will discover that you have traded your loneliness and quest of finding a mate, which you thought was your biggest problem, for a whole, new set of problems-Bigger Problems-unless you see it as bigger opportunities.
How are you going to relate to each other all of the time-from the toothpaste and toilet seat, to sleeping together, sharing personal items, friends, relatives, in-laws, pets, cars, your future, career-and, in addition, handling money, and rearing children? You are no longer in the dating and friend scene, where you can go home to do whatever you want. You have gone from being strangers to each other to a committed relationship, with responsibility! Change can be very difficult for some, and, if you made the wrong decision to live together first, you entered into an entire, additional set of other problems, as well. Love is not all you need, especially if you do not know what love is!
1. Is it true that all you need is love? Why, or why not?
2. What is the logical conclusion to just having love, even if it is directly practiced from the precepts of 1 Corinthians 13?
3. How do changes in our lives affect how we handle love and relationships?
Will the perfect mate fulfill me? NO! Nothing can fulfill you completely. As we are filled with imperfections caused by sin, so we cannot have a mindset that is perfect and understanding like that of God, who is without sin. When we accepted Christ's gift of grace, we did become complete in Him. But, not as most people think. We become declared complete (Galatians 5:5; 2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5). Thus, in God's eyes, we are pure; but, in reality and practice, our sinful state is still in practice, and is active. We can strive to become more mature, which is an aspect of sanctification, but, nonetheless, we are still imperfect beings. Sin affects all we do, including our mate selection and our relational skills. So, all we do is corrupt, even while trying to fulfill His will to the best of the ability and gifts He has given us. We are not even made for this world, rather, for the life to come (Isaiah. 44:9-20; Colossians 3:5).
1. Why will the perfect mate not fulfill me?
2. How does knowing that we are complete in Him help our relationships?
3. How important do you consider sin to be as a major factor on how you are with people?
Will my expectations of, "if you love me you will…" or, if you are only willing to do "my" half, help me? No! Because, you will have no real love-only your expectations to keep you company! These will only develop into pride, and, then, loneliness. If you set conditions, such as saying "I'll do my half if you…." you will stiffen any love that may be there, and your will and pride will take over. You will not be able to develop any kind of godly relationships if you set up conditions and expectations. Love does not put others in a stable made of the fencing from personal desires and expectations. It just will not work; it is not Biblical. All those who try, end up hurt, jumping from relationship to relationship, distancing from friends. Trying this in marriage will land you in divorce court.
If you are only willing to go half way, doing what you think is your part and no further, then, you are refusing to change. Do not go from one friendship to another until you get yourself straight, because, you will cause too much hurt to others. Do not even think of getting married, messing up someone else's life and the lives of generations to come. You will be on the maze road to disappointment, disillusionment, and divorce. Selfishness takes up all of the space of relationships, and has no room in a relationship. Stay alone, buy a cat, and stay single, because you will be far happier. Yes this is harsh, and, it is sad, but, it is true. In addition, you will be saved from a lot of hurt, and from hurting others. Relationships are far too valuable and important to fool with.
You have to be willing to bend; if not, you will break! And, it will not be just you, because, it affects so many others, too. In marriage, it affects the families of both of you, and any kids you might have. You have to be willing to take chances with confidence. If you are operating in God's character, it is a chance worthy to take and make. Look up and see the wonder He has for you! But, you will not be able to, if your vision is skewed with anything except His precepts.
You have to be willing to give at least 95%. If you are not, you need to work on yourself. When you are willing to give that amount, it will not be long until you will be at a 50/50 partnership. But, the key is the effort and willingness to go far beyond what you think your part is! When they feel you are contributing, your friends and spouse will feel inspired to do so, too. You will be able to cut through the tall grasses of conflict, understanding the issues and problems that spring up. Be willing to be the mower of the weeds of fear and pride that cover up relationships.
1. Which would you rather have-your expectations, or real love-to keep you company?
2. If we are unwilling to change ourselves for the better, how can we expect others to do so with us?