- You say you love me, but you call me names.
- You say you are sorry, but you keep being mean.
- How can I know that you love me when you keep taking out your frustrations on me?
Many Christians struggle in their relationships because they don’t realize that their idea of love is different from the other person’s in their relationship. They are confused by the profession of love one minute and the hurtful words and actions the next. Even though they love one another, they try to follow God, and they want their relationship to work, they can’t stop the hurt.
The Mix Up
Our original definition and design of love come from our life experiences with imperfect people. Many of us have deemed certain words and behaviors “normal” in a loving relationship. We don’t realize that some of the attitudes, words, and actions we have accepted as normal we have also classified as healthy. Our experiences create our reality until we learn a new one.
How many of you were told: it’s healthy to fight in a relationship, you must be understanding and let your spouse vent if they have had a bad day, you must forgive, forget, and keep going? Each one of these phrases has loaded word(s) in italics, fight, vent, and forget and keep going. When we don’t know how to live in Christ’s love design, we will accept these destructive phrases as our guide in relationships. We transfer the world’s morals, values, and guidelines into what we believe Jesus designed our relationships to be. These are all lies we live in until we learn his truth and implement it in our relationships.
Satan wants to Destroy You
“The thief (Satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” (John 10:10) From the time of Adam and Eve, the devil has focused on destroying us individually and in our relationships. He lies to us about our identity in Christ and as children of God. He camouflages the world’s destructive ways as Christ’s ways. The devil also ignites our imperfect and sinful flesh desires to have control to create a constant tug of war in our relationships.
In the middle of our pain, confusion, and frustration, we are too busy trying to fix or escape our pain to seek God’s answers. But when we come to God first, we strip the devil from having any influence over us. We must learn that we are responsible for learning to work with Jesus and learn to overcome the world through him.
Christ is Our Example of a Healthy Person
Many people struggle to figure out what is healthy and what is not. I have a simple rule to use. If my attitude, words, and actions to myself or to others would make Jesus smile, they are healthy. When we study the life of Jesus, we see his healthy characteristics of the first and second commandments, respect, freedom, and responsibility. We also see the fruits of the holy spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, kindness, faithfulness, and self-control.
To help you see how these characteristics look in relationships, I have created the following table, Healthy Relationship Equality. Review each of the eight guidelines, which all fall under the first guideline of Christ’s love design, to love others as he has loved us.
As disciples of Christ, we are called to be in relationships. In our relationships, we are guided by the word of God and the example of Jesus. To become healthy, we must learn to work with Jesus and let him transform our old habits into his loving ways. It’s vital for us to keep growing in a personal relationship with Jesus every day to remain healthy.
As we walk with Jesus and become more like him, we will recognize when we are unhealthy or others around us. We will know how to draw and live in healthy boundaries. We will be able to limit or end the unhealthy relationships that are destructive and toxic in Christ’s love. As we walk with Jesus in our healthy relationships, he will bless us. Disciples of Christ, it’s time to love and live like Jesus Christ in healthy relationships!
At the core of all healthy relationships is Christ’s love! “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12, NIV)
Here is a song to encourage you this week. Love Like Jesus, by Rhett Walker Band.
Ready to learn to live in Christ’s love design, go to this link now! Quest for Exceptional Love Book and Workbook on Amazon.