As promised, this is the second part of my two part series on Relationship Goals, a sermon series I have heard the past two weeks at The Porch in DFW.
“The one” is such a haunting concept. Who is it? What do they look like? When we will meet? And the biggie – when will I know?
These are questions I am willing to bet we have all grown up asking ourselves. Of course, when we ask them out loud the answer we get is along the lines of “you’ll know when you know.” But what does that mean? Yes, I am willing to bet 100% of us have asked and wondered the same questions.
However, here’s the thing about “the one” – I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wondering and dreaming about the future, but when it comes to marriage, you can’t wonder about the one, you can’t date looking for the one, if you don’t even know what you’re looking for in the first place.
An interesting twist to the sermon series (I felt) – JP did not take us down a traditional path of scripture focused on love and marriage, but instead used a scripture often quoted by church youth groups:
“Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.”
1 Timothy 4:12
Interesting, right? Youth groups often use this verse to encourage the kids based on the first part of the verse – let no one look down on your youthfulness. Yet as far as JP was concerned, it’s the five traits listed in this verse that are more important – but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.
These are the five character traits that should define our entire outlook on dating. Or, as JP would put it –
“If your standards are not God’s standards, then your standards are stupid.”
You laugh, maybe roll your eyes, I did too but it’s true.
What does a person say? You can tell a lot about a person by their speech. As James would put it, we need to people who are quick to listen and slow to speak. Not quick to speak and then apologize later for what we said. Listen to what they’re saying. Whatever comes out of a person’s mouth is what lies in their heart. Watch their speech, and watch yours as well. Then you can find your identity in Christ and not your attitude.
What are they known for? Similarly to speech, studying someone’s conduct and how they act can tell wonders about them. Proverbs tell us in chapter 11 verse 20 that the perverse in heart are an abomination to the Lord. Now, I could be wrong about you, but I know personally I would never want to be an abomination to the Lord. Though, if I’m being honest with myself, I know I’ve been there before.
Yet Paul tells in Philippians 2:15 that Christians should conduct themselves in such a way that they appear as lights to the word. As Christians, we should literally glow with Christ. Our conduct is a direct indicator of that.
Past behavior is a perfect indicator of future performance. But that does not mean Christ cannot heal anything and anyone. He can. When it comes to conduct, their repentance needs to be as strong as their rebellion.
How do they love? How have they loved others? This is huge. Major. You don’t love someone because of your feelings. I hope you realize how selfish this is. A major sign of immaturity is when a person allows their feelings to design reality. Feelings do not define a relationship, who put you here does.
When we love, even if a relationship doesn’t work, we should leave someone better than we found them.
Let me repeat that: leave someone better than you found them.
I hope you realize how truly radical this idea is – to love someone so much that no matter what happens between the two of you, you never, ever beat them down but instead continue to love them and lift them. You continue to help them become better than who they were you met. That’s love.
I feel this is very commonly understood, but what do they believe? What is the trajectory of their life faith? Does it align with yours? These are such important questions to ask. These will be things that begin to define, and possibly divide, your relationship. If you can’t agree on matters of faith, you will not be able to agree on other issues as well. Run with Christians and a myriad of issues can be missed.
Yes or no. That’s the only way to answer this questions. Are they relentless about purity or no? This is the time to set an example. God can restore anything. I truly, truly believe this. God can restore anything, but the time to pursue the discipline is now, especially if you’re single. Pursue purity now. Remember you were bought with a price. The Holy Spirit lives inside of you. Your body is not yours. Respect that.
I may sound crazy here, JP probably definitely sounds crazy here, but the important thing is you’re not dating to find someone perfectly compatible. If you’re dating to find someone you match up with as your friends would say “perfectly,” if you’re dating because of they way someone makes you feel, you’re dating for the wrong reasons. You will run with things get hard, and then wonder why the relationship failed.
Find someone fully committed, fully yoked to Christ.
JP joked with us on Tuesday that he once dated this girl and no matter what she never ceased to surprise him with how committed she was not only to him, but to Christ. She was always there, but she always loved Jesus more. He stood in awe and wondered “what am I doing dating this girl? She loves Christ so much. Why am I dating her?”
No, they didn’t break up. To quote JP exactly – “So I stopped dating her and put a ring on it.”
Those fully committed and fully yoked to Christ. Those who seek to do the will of God in every facet of their life, as Christians, those are who we should surround ourselves with. Christ first, ourselves second. This is how we identify “the one.”