The longer I live the more I become convinced that all of life is really about one thing, relationships. Some of us are more relationally oriented and some of us are more task oriented, but at the end of the day what gives it all meaning is the relationships we have with the people around us. Ultimately, as those trusting in Christ, what gives all of life meaning is our relationship with Christ. That is why the Scriptures are so clear on the necessity of our learning to have right relationships.
The commandments given to Moses at Sinai give us guidelines for right relationships to both God and our fellow man. Jesus himself characterized these right relationships as love relationships in Matthew 22:37-40 saying, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” We spend our entire lives learning how to have right love relationships, so that we can learn how to have a true love relationship with God. Matthew 22 serves as a baseline for how what we believe should affect our relationships with other people. However, do our relationships fully reflect the truth of this verse?
We all struggle to understand love, but we far too often set ourselves up for a fall because we do not understand what love is and what it is not. We do not know what it means to love biblically. We confuse love with other experiences and emotions, and therefore have no basis to evaluate our relationships. We need a realistic and biblical understanding of love and relationships. We need an external and eternal standard by which we can evaluate our relationships. The Bible provides that standard.
There are five primary biblical love relationships that we can use to help us measure and evaluate our relationships. The first of these is found in Matthew 5:43-45, You have heard that it was said, ‘you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. Jesus himself commands us to love our enemies.
The second biblical love relationship is found in Leviticus 19:18, Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD. Jesus himself commands us to love our neighbors.
The third biblical love relationship is presented in John 13:34-35, A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. Jesus himself gives us this new command to love our spiritual family, our brothers and sisters in Christ.
The fourth biblical love relationship is explained by Paul in his letter to the Ephesians. In Ephesians 5:25-33 Paul commands us to love our spouses as a model of Christ’s relationship with the church,
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. . . Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.
The final and most important biblical love relationship can be found throughout Scripture. However, it is explicitly given to us in Deuteronomy 6 and repeated by Jesus in Matthew 22. Deuteronomy 6:4-5 says, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” God himself commands us to love Him above all.
We need to see that each one of these biblical love relationships has a particular purpose, and God has placed boundaries around each one to protect us and the purpose of the relationship from corruption. There are also five resulting implications from these that we can apply in helping us evaluate our relationships. Pastor Shawn and I will be leading an MIT class this winter that will help us better understand how to shepherd our children in biblical relationships that lead to a biblical marriage. The course will aim to accomplish this by providing scriptural principles and practical methods regarding biblical relationships, modesty, purity, dating, courtship, biblical sexuality, and biblical marriage.
I pray you will strongly consider taking this course, and we encourage both parents to attend if possible. Ultimately, helping our children have more biblical relationships will only aid them in having a true love relationship with Christ. It is never too early, or too late, to instill in your child spiritual insights and biblical truth.