Life At Its Best: Following God's pattern for dating relationships
As a kid, I thought girls were gross and wondered why any guy would want to date one. Then I became a teenager, and my perspective changed.
I entered high school and found out there was a cheerleader interested in me. She invited me to a party and, while there, started pressuring me to do things that weren't right. After that night, I started thinking about the direction my life was headed. I realized that the standards I lived with and relationships I chose would ultimately determine where I ended up.
That's true for all of us. Our standards and connections decide our destination. That's why every relationship we enter, including dating relationships, should reflect God's model. In Matthew 11:29-30, Jesus says, "Come to me, all who are weary and heavy burdened, and I'll give you rest ... Let me teach you ... and you'll find rest."
When we try to make relationships work based on our own knowledge, we're left confused and burdened. But following God's way leads to fulfillment and rest. In his word, we find three keys to developing healthy dating relationships.
First, we must focus on preparing ourselves. In 1 Corinthians 7:32 Paul, in reference to marriage, says, "I want you to live free from concern."
When we're single, our primary concern shouldn't be finding a mate. Instead, we should focus our time and energy on serving God and embracing his truth in our life. Then, when it comes time, we'll be ready for the person he's prepared for us.
Secondly, we should understand the kind of person we want, and recognize them when the time comes. In Genesis 24, Abraham says to his servant, "Swear ... that you won't get a wife for my son from among the young Canaanite women." The Canaanites didn't value God's law, and Abraham knew the danger of his son connecting to them.
In the same way, we must be careful whom we connect with. We should look for someone who is passionate about applying God's principles to their life and who'll support us as we do the same. Nobody's perfect, but we're called to be couples that value God's standard and live dedicated to helping each other grow in him.
Lastly, we must be careful not to give ourselves to a relationship too quickly. The biblical model of people coming together is courtship, which is defined as, "a prelude to marriage; paying attention to somebody with a view to developing a more intimate relationship."
Notice, it's a process. Connecting too quickly, physically or emotionally, leads to pain. We must spend time really getting to know them on a personal level. Then, we can trust that God will bring us together in his perfect timing.
Whose pattern are you following? I encourage you to follow the pattern found in God's word. Focus on becoming who he's called you to be, and, when it's time, look for that person you can build a godly life with. Then, spend time getting to know each other, and know that God will bring you together in his perfect timing.
Jim Graff is the Senior Pastor of Faith Family Church in Victoria. faithfamilyvictoria.com.