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Building Lasting Relationships: Biblical Love (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
By David L. Goetsch
This is the eighth and last in a series of blogs on building lasting relationships. Each successive blog has covered one specific reason relationships fall apart and how to avoid such an unhappy outcome in your relationships.
This series of blogs has explained some of the most common reasons relationships fail and how you can prevent that from happening to your relationships. Each building block in establishing and maintaining lasting relationships covered in the previous blogs is important, but I saved the most important building block for last: biblical love. The lack of biblical love is the most common culprit in failed relationships. Correspondingly, the presence of biblical love is the most important reason relationships that last are able to weather the inevitable storms that often tear relationships apart
We live in a society in which romance novels, the entertainment industry, and online match-making sites promote a false understanding of what love actually is. The so-called love popularized by television, movies, books, and the internet rests on a foundation of self-centeredness. It’s all about what one partner can do for the other or how one partner makes the other one feel. I call this self-centered view of love ice-cream love.
People claim to “love” ice cream, but they really don’t. Rather, they love the way it looks, tastes, and makes them feel. They love the way it satisfies the seductive lure of self-indulgence. Their so-called love of ice cream is a manifestation of self-centeredness. People “love” ice cream from the perspective of self gratification. This is not real love; it’s infatuation. Relationships built on infatuation are bound to fail because infatuation is temporary.
People who enter into marriage or other close relationships on the basis of infatuation have started down a one way street to failure. The things that infatuate them about each other inevitably change over time. Beauty fades, bodies sag, hairlines recede, health problems crop up, skin wrinkles, and hair turns gray. When these things happen, the infatuation that originally brought the two people together wears off and there is nothing left to hold them together. Like ice cream that has melted and gone sour, the partners in the relationship no longer meet each other’s self-centered needs.
This is why it is important to build relationships on biblical love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 summarizes in just a few words what is meant by biblical love: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.”
When you love someone from a biblical perspective, your chief concern is for their best interests, not what they can do for you or how they make you feel. Biblical love is not just an emotion; it is an action verb. You demonstrate biblical love by not by what you say or feel but by what you do. According to 1 Corinthians 13, you demonstrate biblical love in a relationship by being patient and kind when you feel like being irritable or resentful. You demonstrate biblical love by thinking of the other person first rather than insisting on getting your own way all the time. You demonstrate biblical love by bearing up, enduring, and giving the other person hope during times of adversity.
If you are in a relationship that is failing because it is based on infatuation, rebuild it on the solid foundation of biblical love. If you know of young people who are considering marriage on the basis of infatuation, sit down with them and share 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Let them know that infatuation — no matter how strong — is temporary, but biblical love is permanent.
Dr. Goetsch is the author of Christian Women on the Job: Excelling at Work without Compromising Your Faith, Fidelis Books, an imprint of Post Hill Press and Christians on the Job: Winning at Work Without Compromising Your Faith, Salem Books, an imprint of Regnery Publishing, 2019: www.david-goetsch.com