By Stephen L France
‘NOW FAITH IS THE ASSURANCE OF THINGS HOPED FOR, THE CONVICTION OF THINGS NOT SEEN.’ HEBREWS 11:1 ESV
One of the most challenging concepts I found in the Bible, has also been the clearest teaching of all for me.
In light of the passing of Valentine’s Day last month and the celebration of having a loving relationship, I paraphrase the teaching: We need to put God first in our human relationships and love Him first. Only then, can we truly love everything else. (Matthew 22:37-39)
Here’s what my response would have been prior to my life with God:
I’m a good man. I have good intentions and don’t mean anybody harm. If I meet the ideal woman who shares the same moral compass as I, surely we can have a good, honest, loving relationship without God.
The first thing I understood about the Bible’s aforementioned teaching when considering romantic love, was the difference between my lifestyle prior to God, and my transformation after coming to love Him first.
How I lived before God: I had my own moral code which was subject to change. I grew fatigued with being a good man and the old adage, ‘Nice guys finish last.’
How I live with God: Knowing I’ve been saved, I strive to adhere to God’s laws that have remained consistent from since their inception e.g. be good to your neighbour, love your enemies etc.
Coming to love God first in understanding salvation, I perceive God’s laws as His love for me, because He doesn’t need anything. God’s laws protect me from my fallen nature; my independent, egotistical, prideful side (Romans 8: 1 – 4).
Before I knew God, when combining my ego with another individual’s ‘independent nature,’ problems could certainly have arisen, so God calls on us to pursue humility – the absence of self (Colossians 3:12 & Galatians 2:20).
Applying this to a relationship
Applying God’s laws in my future relationship, I imagine it building from these foundations:
Both my partner and I love God first, eliminating pride, and nurturing humility. This means we strive for obedience in all his laws that are designed to protect us, breeding unity. This ranges from the obvious of ‘no adultery’ through to discipline over our thoughts and actions, regarding fantasy. In keeping our love on God first, we wouldn’t idolise each other. If I were to focus my life on my partner, this could be challenging. An easy example to use would be if I declared that: ‘I’m only happy when she is with me.’ One then has to ask: when my partner has to go on a business trip for two weeks, does this mean I’m unhappy in that time? Do you think you can have a loving relationship without God?
Written by Stephen France
For more from the author visit his Feeding Faith series.