Love, the Source of Healthy Relationships

“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, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

We hear the term “love” everywhere since it is universally recognized as a value. Even hardened criminals claim to “love” their families, or at least their friends. When terms get used everywhere and become commonplace, they can lose their meaning. Fortunately, the Bible defines love for us.

The Corinthians faced many problems, most of which were brought on by carnal living. Chapter after chapter, the Apostle Paul addresses these problems and then tackles new ones. But in chapter thirteen, he provides the true remedy to problem relationships: biblical love.

Sometimes parents remind complaining kids how much they do for them. They provide, keep them safe, feed them, etc. Indeed the Bible commends good deeds, but also attitude. A parent may provide for a child, but also bark out orders all day long, or give the impression the child never matches up. The Bible shows us a “more excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31).

The verses above speak about tone and demeanor. When we growl, bark and bite, we do not demonstrate God’s love. In fact, we undo the other good things we may do. The “better way” exercises patience to erring brothers and sisters. It does not value self-interest above others. It communicates a message to those it interacts with: “You are made in God’s image, and I respect you.” Furthermore, love freely forgives and does not hold onto the injuries we may receive from others.

Many at this point will respond, “I cannot possibly love like that!” Quite true, none of us can. But we can do all things through Him who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). God provides the believer all things pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). Jesus shows the way by His remarkable example. The apostles write about a meek and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:4) and gentleness (Galatians 5:23). We learn that self-centeredness stems from sin and even demonic forces (James 3:14-15).

To deepen and sweeten our relationships, we need to hear from God’s Word, and not allow a shallow and hardened world define love for us. It matters how we treat people. Let’s ponder some closing questions:

1. Do we value each person as someone made in the image of God?

2. Do we need to better apply biblical teaching on relationships to our lives?

3. Will we ask God to help us relate to others in a way that honors Him?

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