Growing a Relationship

By Stephen Tan

Hitting the age of 30 can be uncomfortable to many singles because they are always being cornered by questions such as where’s your girlfriend or boyfriend. During weddings especially, the questions escalate to the next level: when is your turn? Most of the time, this leaves them speechless.

Hence the 30-somethings have to ponder the question as to why they are still single.

Everyone wishes to find a special someone with whom to grow a relationship. Yet at the same time they are at a loss as to how to start this relationship and sustain it. Sadly, many have entered  relationships that have not grown and instead left scars in the heart. These bad experiences cause them to have doubt, fear, and trust issues which become invisible obstacles preventing them from moving on.   

Much as we like to prevent such bad experiences, yet at the same time we wish to seek a growing relationship. This leads me to seek wisdom from the bible.

Firstly, let us find the definition of love in the bible: 

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails (1 Cor13:4-8).

Compare the above with the dictionary definition: (1): strong affection for another arising out of kinship (2): attraction based on sexual desire: affection and tenderness felt by lovers (3): affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests (Merriam-Webster.com/dictionary of love).

This clearly shows the great difference between God’s wisdom and man’s. Many who build their relationship based on man’s wisdom will only continue to bring many unwanted consequences in their relationship because the foundation of their love is based on selfish love whereas God teaches us to practice selfless love. No wonder the divorce rate keeps rising over the years.

Now, knowing the answer is the easy part of this mission, how to apply it will lead to the real breakthrough! In order to truly master the art of selfless love, one must begin from loving God. 

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love (1 John 4:7-8).

Ability to recognize our loving God and willing to learn, follow and obey His will is the beginning of the selfless love journey. In comparison, people who don’t love God and who learned love from the movies might end up destroying their relationships. Many movie stars in real life have gone through multiple divorces.

After loving God, the second commandment is to love your neighbour as yourself (Matt 22:39), that is the people around us. And the people who are always around us are none other than our parents and siblings. If we’re unable to practice selfless love in the family, we will be tasting our own toxicity when we have one of our own. Furthermore, any couple who think that their relationship only revolves around the two of them and go against their families may end up throwing away the best pillar of building a relationship. 

Starting a family is like starting a business. Starting a business itself is already challenging, what more  growing the business. And the core requirement of growing a business is getting as much support as you can, especially from your strongest supporters! 

After our family, the next closest neighbours should be our brethren-in-Christ. Sadly, some Christians are prioritizing building relationships with their friends. We must understand that many of our friends choose to love the world whereas we choose to love God. 

15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever (1 Jn 2:15-17).

Your friends will only lead you to serve the world and yourself, not God. Whereas as brethren, we love one another through sharing, edifying and serving one another to grow abundantly in various areas of our life and more importantly in glorifying our God.

Having love for God, family and serving the church with love, we will be well-trained and equipped with the selfless love that was mentioned in (1 Cor 13:4-8). It is time to show our love through good deeds and preaching the word of God to our friends. Help them to realize this selfless love from God will only truly grow our relationship rather than distance us. 

Please let me explain it this way. After starting work, I hardly meet my close friends from school who live in Klang. Our different beliefs and values hinder us from growing our relationships. Conversely, I do meet up with brethren from as far as Singapore or Australia when they come worship with us. 

If we truly seek to build a growing relationship amidst family and friends, the best way is to find someone from the same faith. And definitely one day, God willing, you will be groomed to become a Mr or Miss Right to someone. 

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