Dealing with relationships: love

Jen Boyd | Jan 5th, 2013

Longing for love

Longing for love seems to be an almost universal experience for human beings. This shouldn’t surprise us. When we read the account of creation in Genesis 1-2, we see that God created us for relationship – with himself and with other people. He also created men and women in a way that would allow them to share in an intimate and exclusive relationship with each other that we call marriage. When we consider the way we have been designed, it makes sense that we long for such love and intimacy.

What about love?

Jesus sees love at the centre of living ‘the good life’. He says that all of God’s ideas of living well can be summed up by two ideas: “love God” and “love your neighbour” (see Mark 12:29-31). To live a good and fulfilling life as a Christian is to love. What may seem counter-intuitive for us, however, in defining ‘the good life’, is that the love God intends is sacrificial. It puts the needs of others before those of yourself.

The cry we hear most loudly in our world is ‘do what’s best for you’. Next time you sit through an ad break on television, see if you can pick out this message coming through in the ads. It’s got to the point where there is no shame in selfishness. Selfishness sells. And, sadly, selfishness rules many of the relationships you may see happening around you. To what extent has this message of the world affected you in how you think about love and relationships?

Now, if you are a Christian, then you have been at the receiving end of real sacrificial love. Jesus died for you so you might have the rich blessings of forgiveness, relationship with God and the promise of living with God for eternity. Having received so much, let us learn to love like him.

Answering temptation with love

In my experience, there are particular temptations that strike us when we are single, when we are ‘going out’, and when we are married. See what you think of these:

  • When we’re single we are tempted to be dissatisfied with the life God has given us, and to be jealous of our friends who have boyfriends or girlfriends.
  • When we’re ‘going out’ with someone, the temptations we face include devoting ourselves to our boyfriend or girlfriend more than to our God, taking our physical relationship to a place that is ultimately unhelpful for the other person, and excluding our other friends.
  • When we’re married, we can be tempted to always insist on things being done our way, talking with our spouse or making love only when we feel like it, and using each other as an excuse not to serve others.

Why not read back over these temptations and consider how different things could be if we were to truly love God and our neighbours as ourselves.

My story

Let me share something of my story with you. After the end of a relationship in my third year of uni I was pretty much single until I was 30. Now married, it would be easy for me to look back and say that those 10 years of being single were the best years of my life! The reality is, though, that being single can have its ups and downs.

Possibly the hardest time for me was my last year at Bible college, approaching age 30 and having to make big decisions for my future. I really would have liked having someone to make those decisions with me.

During that year I spent some time reading the book of Ecclesiastes. I came to realise that God has our ‘times’ in his hands. It is God who determines the various times or “seasons” in each of our lives (Ecc 3:1-8), and “he [God] has made everything beautiful in its time” (3:11).

But, how did this help me in coping with being single at 30? Well, I realised that at any point in my life, God had determined the season that I was to be in. If I was single, God thought that was best. The beautiful thing for me to do in that season was to embrace being single and to make the most of it.

Part 2: Relationships - seasons