The pursuit of true love is everywhere. We see it in magazines, TV shows and movies. Countless songs and books have written about it. So why does true love seem so hard to find and keep? Is it only intended for the lucky few?
By the very nature of how we’re wired, most of us long to find – or try to create – better and more meaningful relationships. Many of us view love through a lens distorted by a lifetime of spoken and unspoken messages about love and relationships that bear no resemblance to reality. Hollywood’s widely accepted definition of lasting relationships goes something like this: “Find the right person, fall in love, and then fix our hopes and dreams of future fulfillment on that person.”
In our quest for love, many of us have followed this prescription over and over, only to discover that it doesn’t work. There’s a wealth of research that proves this painful point. Recent studies show that divorced adults are the most rapidly growing population in America.
There’s good news: God has provided us with His own prescription for lasting relationships. Because He made us to love and to be loved, His heart for each of us is that we would experience deeply fulfilling relationships.
So, how do we experience the authentic love that God desires us to have? God’s prescription for finding and sustaining lasting relationships can be summarized in four steps:
1. Become the right person. Instead of trying to “find the right person” or wanting your spouse to become someone else, you can be the right person. This means imitating God’s kindness and generosity, forgiving people the way He forgives us and loving others as He loves us.
In the book of Ephesians, the Apostle Paul specifically instructs us in how we are to treat one another in our relationships. He writes, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their need, that it may benefit those who listen… Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Eph. 4:29-32)
2. Walk in love. The Bible also instructs us to mimic Christ by choosing to walk in love. This means choosing to be a “giver” instead of a “getter.” In the next chapter, Paul writes, “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Eph. 5:1-2) True love isn’t about having those ooey-gooey feelings but about giving the other person what they need the most when they deserve it the least.
3. Fix your hope on God and seek to please Him through your relationship. When your relationship is God-centered instead of self-centered you’ll grow closer to Him through your experiences. Hollywood is all about “what you can get from the other person,” but God’s way is all about honoring Him first. And he promises that when we do, the rewards, joy and the blessings are worth it — and possible.
4. When – not if — this fails, repeat steps 1, 2 and 3. When your relationship fails in some way, instead of blaming the other person, look within yourself first. Ask yourself, “Am I becoming the right person?”
So which prescription are you going to choose – Hollywood’s or God’s? And which one do you unconsciously believe the most?
This week we’ll begin the series Love, Sex and Lasting Relationships. Together we’ll examine how to pursue God’s plan for finding love, staying in love, and growing in intimacy that lasts for a lifetime. My prayer is that you will have renewed faith that with God’s guidance we truly can experience deeper and more fulfilling relationships than we’ve ever imagined.
Keep Pressin’ Ahead,
Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip