A Valentine Gift to You
A few Sundays ago I was engaged in a very delightful conversation with some of our single ladies. One of the question I asked them was, “Are you afraid to bring someone that you like to me for my consideration?” They answered yes! Our dear young daughters stated that they were somewhat afraid to bring that guy around because they feared that we would run him off.
Out of that conversation about relationships it was suggested that since Valentine's Day is approaching, it may be helpful to provide some guidance for getting into a wholesome and beautiful relationship. Therefore, I decided to offer some insight that may help singles work through the difficulties of finding the “right intended” by moving them through the process of building good relationships. The bible teaches us that God has given us everything pertaining to life and godliness. Christ has provided some good signs in His word to guide us in matters of the heart? I’ve decided to use road signs to provide a more visual picture of what God’s word teaches us about relationships. So let’s look at some of those signs and see how they can guide you in the way of building good relationships..
The First sign that Christ gives us involves Deprogramming and reprogramming ourselves about dating - Whenever we are driving and about to turn down a road going the wrong way we see a sign like this. This sign means that the way we’re about to go is the wrong way. If we continue driving in that direction it can be catastrophic. Before anyone gets into dating, it is necessary to learn how to date the right way so that it does not turn out to be hurtful or heartbreaking. It’s necessary to go through a deprogramming process and then re-program our hearts and minds so that we can be open to the signs God gives us and then follow them as God reveals them to us. Rom 12:2 states, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (ESV).”
When it comes to dating almost all of us have been fashioned or trained by the world in the manner in which we date. Basically, we see someone to whom we are attracted. We go out on some dates and we start becoming physically and emotionally attached. In our dating world that is basically the pattern we follow which often ends up in frustration and sometimes in catastrophe. The reason that these things happen is because that worldly process causes us to sidestep the signs that God gives us. Therefore, one must deprogram himself or herself from the world’s way of dating and get reprogrammed so that he or she can date successfully.
The second set of signs involves understanding the real purpose for dating which goes along with deprogramming and reprogramming.
One major purpose for dating is for “FINDING OUT THE FACTS!” – This is the main one that gets sidestepped the most. People will say that they are spending time with each other in order to get to know one another, but usually that does not happen to the degree that is necessary to have a good, vibrant, long lasting relationship because when we date the way we’ve been fashioned we miss the signs that God gives us. Often, couples get physically and emotionally caught up too quickly and miss out on learning the important facts that they need to know before moving deeper into the relationship. They usually do not learn the facts until a crash has occurred.
It may take several conversations and even dates in order to obtain the facts but staying on a “fact finding tour” will do several really cool things for you. Firstly, staying on a fact-finding tour will help control the speed of the development of the relationship and minimize the disappointments that can occur in a relationship. Secondly, staying on the fact-finding tour helps develop the quality of the relationship should the signs allow you to continue. Thirdly, if the person doesn’t work out you find out early and your heart does not hurt nearly as bad. Both parties should be searching for the facts. What are the facts to look for? For this blog all we will cover is fact #1.
Fact #1 - Does he or she have the basics to enter a relationship? Often, Christians want to know if the person whom they have taken a step to spend time with goes to church and have some measure of godliness. I suggest that this shallow piece of information grossly limits one’s ability to ascertain the pertinent information to answer fact number one. There are five components to fact number one just to know whether an individual in whom you are interested has the basis for entering a relationship. The great and safe part in dating about finding out this fact is that it guides what you do on a date and it prevents you from becoming too involved with someone who will not work out. Here are the basics that someone should have before you even consider going further.
- Salvation – has this person placed their faith and trust in the finished work of Jesus for his or her salvation? At some point very early when getting to know one another this question has to be answered by both and the sooner the better. I realize that some people have a little difficulty with seeming too pushy about Jesus but this has to be a matter of conversation. Having a thorough discussion about one’s salvation will begin forming the basis for having deeper and more intimate conversations down the road. I’ll reserve communications for a later discussion.
You may begin that conversation by simply saying, “Tell me how you came to know Jesus.” This type of prompt gives him or her the opportunity to share his or her testimony, if he or she has one. 2 Cor 6:14-15 states, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?
Your first signs are a bold STOP SIGN and a DO NOT ENTER SIGN!! Stop here and proceed no further. Do not enter! You have all the information you need. You are spiritually incompatible and to continue id putting God to the test. You will be saying to Jesus, “I know that he or she is not saved but I think that I can make it work.” Don’t put God to the test. You must be equally yoked to have God’s favor for the relationship. However, being equally yoked is still not enough. Is he or she…
2. Growing spiritually & maturing– is this person habitually living out the gospel in his or her life and growing in his or her commitment to Jesus? This is so important. When people are living out the gospel in their personal lives they ought to be able to cite evidence of their transformation and Christ’s dealings in his or her life. The more a person becomes like Jesus the more likely he or she will follow Jesus in the relationship. Conversations along these lines gives you additional things to talk about while all the time you are gathering good facts. How can you tell if a person is growing spiritually? The following can be a quick guide in helping you determine if this person has the basics for a good relationship.
– There is a desire for God’s word. (Psalm 119)
– There is a desire to fellowship w/ God and His people. (Psalm 27:4; 42:1,2; 133; Hebrews 10:24,25)
– There is a desire to tell others about Christ. (Acts 4:18)
– There is an increasing awareness of sin. (Ps. 139:23)
– There is an increased exercise of faith. (Romans 1:17; Hebrews 11:6)
– There is a greater or growing concern about pleasing God.
– There is a greater commitment to give (finances, gifts, talents, time; 2 Samuel 24:24)
– There is a commitment to faithful service. 1 Peter 4:10,11
3. Basic maturity is also essential in a person’s life. You want to know whether or not a person is…
– Maturing as a person? 1 Corinthians 13:11. Immaturity can be embarrassing and disastrous. You give birth to babies. You don’t date babies!
– Are they growing professionally, educationally, socially? Does he or she read? Is he or she seeking to advance in his or her profession. Does he or she have good manners?
If you have spend time talking about these things you may possibly have a candidate but if you cannot adequately see the growth you may find yourself on a slippery course.
4. Responsible – Does he or she reasonably handle the basic affairs of everyday living? Is he or she responsible in that he or she has a good work ethic, holds a steady job, pays his or her bills, completes tasks, etc. This is important because the last thing you want to do is to get tied to an irresponsible person. I understand that these things can be personal. However truthful conversation about them can reveal quite a bit about a person. ? Psalms 37:21; 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12; Proverbs 26:13-16; 24:30-34
- Accountable – Are there people who can tell your intended what to do or when they are wrong and they will listen? Prov. 1:25,30-33; 12:15; 13:10; 19:20,21; 18:2; 24:7 Usually a person who is not accountable to someone often will not be accountable to God or His word. If you went so far as to marry this person and ran into difficulty, he or she will not seek help because he or she is their own authority.
- Do they demonstrate a submissive spirit in relationships where there is a higher authority? Hebrews 13:17, Ephesians 5:21, 6:1-3,5; Rom. 13:1-7. People who do not submit to human authority usually will not submit to God’s authority or God’s word in areas where he or she may disagree. How can you tell if this person is not accountable? They are one way. It’s their way or their opinion.
4. Teachable – Are they in the habit of learning from others? Proverbs 1:5 ; 12:15; 18:2. A person with a teachable spirit will grow. He or she will learn from others and particularly learn how to respond to God’s leading in his or her life.
As you can see already if in spending time with a person you are always looking for the facts, just simply trying to determine if a person has the basis to enter a relationship can keep the interaction safe and protect your heart from heartbreak. It doesn’t mean that you won’t be disappointed because sometimes that person is just not the one though he or she may appear to be. The great part about choosing to be reprogrammed in dating, the dating process becomes a vehicle of being transformed into the image of Jesus by simply walking in His wisdom by faith in the manner in which you date. Please understand that Jesus is for you. He loves you and the person that He has for you (if he has one for you) will be a lifelong blessing to you. Just follow the signs that He gives.
I hope that you look forward to part 2.