The idea of finding love is often more exciting than actually preparing for it. But could our preparation be the very thing that helps us win the relationship we’ve always wanted?
- If you were to have dinner with your favorite actor or recording artist, what would you remind yourself not to do or say that you typically do or say?
- Would you say dating prepares people for great relationships? Why or why not?
- We all live our lives at our own pace. But in a relationship, how do you make sure you’re not forcing your own pace on the other person?
- Have you ever thought of kindness as a weakness? Do you agree that a lack of kindness indicates a lack of self-control? Why or why not?
- If a promise (a vow) isn’t a substitute for preparation, what can you do—beginning today-—to prepare yourself to be successful relationally?
NOTE: The following content is a raw transcript and has not been edited for grammar, punctuation, or word usage.
Now, today, we are actually in part two of a series entitled Love, Dates, and Heartbreaks. And this is a series for people who are dating who used to be dating who wanna be dating for high school students, college students, graduate students. Singles. If you’re married, there’s something in this series for you for sure if you’re single again, there’s something in this series for you. This is a series for anybody who is serious about romance and serious about long-term relationships. And the other reason that I’m excited about this series, is not just what you’re gonna get out of it but what I get out of it because this is my opportunity as I said last time we were together. To talk about something that breaks my heart, and perhaps more than anything, outside something that could happen in my personal family to thing that breaks my heart the most about our culture and society is watching people make relationship decisions that undermine their relationships. This just breaks my heart, because as I said, there’s so much unavoidable pain in life anyway. The last thing we need to do is complicate our lives further especially our relationships by making decisions that undermine the integrity of our personal relationships. And the truth is, we’ve all seen this, right?
You have watched friends and family members make terrible relationship decisions and you thought to yourself, “My goodness, can you not see what you’re about to do? Can you not see that this is not gonna work? So this is really easy to see when it comes to other people. It’s virtually impossible to see in the mirror. And part of the reason is love is a fog and romance is a fog and lust and everything that goes with it is just a fog. And so consequently, it sometimes it’s very difficult to see bad relational decisions in the mirror. So that’s one of the reasons that we’re talking about it. Now, last week, we said that a lot of the confusion around loving romance and dating and all the stuff comes from two myths. And these myths sort of operate in the background of our thinking. And as soon as we talk about them, clearly they’re myths you’re smart enough to know that can’t possibly be true.
So we talked last week about the right person myth. The right person myth is not that there’s not a right person. The right person myth is that once you meet the right person, everything will be all right. And all the married people chuckled, if you’ll remember, right.
And the myth goes like this, that regardless of what you do between now and the time that you meet the right person, Once you meet the right person, all of that goes away and everything’s gonna be just fine.
It’s a myth, the right person myth, it’s a myth and yet this infects our decisions and it really fuels our fantasies, right? And the reason I say it fuels our fantasies is let’s just all be honest, right? What do we fantasize about? We fantasize about finding the right person. Nobody ever sits around at night staring up at the ceiling fantasizing about becoming the right person, right? It’s always about as soon as I meet them I’m gonna be happy, as soon as I meet them I’m gonna be fine, as soon as I meet them I’m gonna be better. And that is a myth. And you’re adults, and you know that’s a myth. So the question we left you with is, are you becoming the person that the person you’re looking for is looking for. And are you becoming the person that the person that married you, was hoping for?
And then we explored the second myth, we called this the promise myth. The promise myth is that a promise replaces
preparation that a promise replaces the need for preparation that you don’t have to prepare for a relationship, you can promise yourself into it, all you need. All you need is a promise and a party. A vow, a ring at a party and boom. And you can promise yourself into relational maturity, you can promise yourself into great relationship habits. And of course, that’s a myth as well, because the promise is no substitute for preparation. Athletes certainly know this athletes don’t promise to win games, athletes, what do they do, they prepare to win. This is my point, you know, this. To win relationally, whether you’re in marriage, looking to get married, dating to win relationally, you have to prepare.
Remember, saying I do does not make you capable, it only makes you accountable. I’m gonna let you fill in a blank. And when you are accountable, but not capable you are eventually… Miserable. Thank you, you got it down here on the front row. When you are accountable but you’re not capable, you are eventually miserable. That’s right, that’s why following Jesus doesn’t just make you make your life better following Jesus actually makes you better at life because when you choose to follow Jesus, He will lead you in the direction of relational integrity because Jesus is all about relationships, because, in the beginning, God created the Heavens and earth and God created humanity and God gave us personalities and God made us in His image, which means we are innately relational people. And here’s the thing, and you may misunderstand this but I’ll put it out there anyway.
When you read the Gospels, Jesus’ invitation is not pray to me, it’s not promise to me, it’s certainly not negotiate with me. His invitation is follow me. Follow me. And where are you gonna take us? He said, “I’ll take you some more simple, I’ll take you somewhere, memorable I’ll take you somewhere demanding. And I’ll take you somewhere rewarding.” Because I’m gonna take you to a single command, that when you understand it fully, changes everything and has the potential to change everything, especially relationally. So here’s what Jesus left his first century followers with here’s what he left us with. It’s so simple. We have complicated it. People that do what I do for living, have complicated it. The church has complicated. It is so simple. He says, Guys, if you forget everything else my command is this.
Love each other, but not the way you’ve been loved, not the way you hear about love, not the way you imagine love, you are to love each other as I have loved you, which is a whole another kind of love. And that’s where we left off last week.
So today, we’re gonna pick it up there and we’re gonna talk about the fine print. The fine print, because there’s always fine print, right, but this isn’t “gotcha” fine print. This is fine print that will make you fine. It will make you someone worth finding it will make you worth someone worth… It’ll make you someone worth keeping. And these are the things, the things we’re gonna talk about today and next time we’re together. These are the things we have to get good at. These are our or should be our sweet skills and dating even though no one’s told you this before, perhaps, dating is actually practice. So while everybody else is trying to get better in bed, you’re gonna get better at being a better person. Awkward pause. By the way, this is worth the whole few minutes, you’re gonna spend with this today. Romance is fueled by exclusivity, not experience. Romance in a relationship is fueled by exclusivity not experience. Sex does not make a relationship. Sex makes babies, okay.
Not anyone wrote that down. I’m just shocked. But here’s what every time they do surveys about sex, you know, what they discover that happily married people that happily married people ultimately have more happily ever after sex, right? So the Apostle Paul, what he does, he brings us the fine print and here’s what he did, the apostle Paul came along after Jesus, and He took Jesus’ single command. Love each other the way that I’ve loved you and he takes it to the Gentile world, the non-Jewish world, and he realizes, “Oh we have a little bit of a culture challenge here. And so, he teases it out so that they could understand exactly what Jesus meant when He said you’re to love each other the way that I have loved you.
The Apostle Paul’s imperatives or the Apostle Paul’s commands whenever you’re reading one of his letters and he says, “Here’s what you should do, here’s what you should do, here’s what you should do, here’s what you do.
He’s not giving new commands He is simply giving us applications of Jesus’ one single command, this is why before his imperatives and after his imperatives, Paul always ties everything to being in Christ or about Christ or The Resurrection or just as just as just as Christ loved us, just as God and Christ love us, he’s not giving us new commands he’s saying, here’s what it looks like in the real world. So essentially, the Apostle Paul comes along and he defines love for us.
Love is patient. Love is not pushy. If someone is pushing you, they are not loving you. Love actually pushes me to give you room because you don’t wanna be pushed, you don’t wanna be rushed. Unless you’re a college freshman, that’s a whole different thing. Okay. You don’t wanna be rushed, right? Love, love chooses is the cool thing about love. Love chooses because it’s always a choice. Love chooses to move at the other person’s pace.
Love is a decision to pause rather than push, love is a decision to pause rather than push. It’s not natural. You know, what’s natural? Your pace is natural, that’s why you think everyone should run and live and do life that you’re pace because it’s natural, and you wonder what’s wrong with everyone else, right? That’s what causes relationship challenges. Love doesn’t expect everybody to keep pace with me. Love says, I’m gonna discover your pace and I’m gonna slow down or speed up and try to keep pace with you.
Here’s the two words you’re gonna hear throughout this message in next week. Love defers because it’s what God did for you and it’s what God did for me. That God didn’t force his pace on us. God did the most extraordinary thing God accommodated. In fact, the best way to understand the entire Old and New Testament is that God accommodates to our capacity. God like a good father, leans over and speaks our language, language we can understand, he goes at our pace because if he went at his pace, which is faster than the speed of light. We wouldn’t know anything about God.
So God accommodates to our capacity and he says, “Now here’s what I want you to do, dads, husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, friends. I want you to get in the habit, I want you to a practice I want you to practice accommodating. I want you to accommodate to other people’s capacity.” God moved at our pace, we’re to do the same for others.
To go the distance relationally, you know this, to go the distance relationally you’ve gotta exercise your patience muscle, and the way you exercise a patience muscle is by practicing patience now in your current relationship so you’ll be ready to exercise it later. Love is patient. Anybody know what the next one is? Love is… Kind yeah. We know all this stuff right where we’ve been talking about here, I got this down. Love is patient, love is kind. Kindness sounds soft and kindness, sounds weak, but men especially, you need to know this kindness is actually an expression of strength. Unkindness is weakness, unkind-ness is weakness, it means because it means you can’t bridle, yourself, you can’t tame your tongue. You can’t control yourself. Unkindness is evidence of weakness, unkindness indicates that you can’t control yourself.
And I’ve given you this definition before do you know what kindness is? Kindness is simply loaning someone your strength rather than reminding them of their weakness. Kindness is, I’m gonna lean in your direction, I’m not gonna remind you. Oh, you did that again? Oh, you always do that. It’s like how many times, if we talked about this, I mean look at this room. Kindness kindness is not constantly reminding someone of their weakness. Kindness is loaning them your strength, it’s doing for others. This is what God did for you. It’s doing for others. What they cannot in the moment do for themselves. Kindness is love’s response to weakness.
It’s what God did for you. Paul said it this way, “While you were still a sinner, God didn’t put his hands on his hips and say, you did what? Again? Call me when you get that worked out alright.” While you were still a sinner, looking to the portals of history, knowing your life. And your promises and your broken promises, and your commitments and your vows and the things that you got reversed on and knowing all that, knowing that you are still a sinner, Christ died for you, and he loaned you His strength in the midst of your weakness it’s what we think about, it’s what a Christians we celebrate and God says, Okay, you got it. Oh, I’m so grateful for, okay, I want you to do that for some other people. I want you to loan them your strength instead of constantly reminding them of their weakness.
So here’s a question. What… And this is a big, this is a big deal. What is your go-to response to weakness? What is your go-to response to weakness in other people? If you’re dating someone you need to pay close attention to this, you need to pay close attention to their go-to response to weakness in others because if they’re pursuing you, they’re on their best behavior with you. But their response to weakness and others will eventually be their response to the weakness in you. And just a little heads up, people who use kindness as a means to an end, are often mean in the end. Next up, Paul gives us a toxic trio, he says, “Let me tell you about everything that love does not just any kind of love but God’s love toward us, that we’re to demonstrate to others. He says, “Love does not envy, it doesn’t boast and it’s never proud. Love does not envy, love does not boast, and love is not proud. Love allows the other person to shine.
Love is willing to step out of the spotlight. Even when they have reason to step into the spotlight. This is so huge, this is so important, this is so much learning to do for others what God and Christ has done for us. Love isn’t threatened by other people’s success. Love is able to celebrate other people’s success without adding their own story without reminding everybody else of your success. Now here’s where this is hard. And this is where love leans in on the things that we need to work that we need to work on personally. See you know this, if you don’t feel good if you don’t feel good about yourself. It’s hard to let others feel good about themselves, right?
And if there is something in you that has a hard time allowing them to stay in the spotlight, without stepping in to saying… Well, you know, when I was in college, now get out of here, okay? You know, there was a time when… No, if there’s something in you that just can’t let someone close to you, and someone you supposedly love stand in the spotlight alone it’s because there’s something in you, you need to work on. And if there’s something in you that you need to work on, work on it, otherwise, it undermines your ability to love as God in Christ has loved you. Because think about this. Paul, he just pens these powerful words that Jesus, think about this. Jesus was in very nature, God. But he did not allow His equality with God to move him to grasp His equality with God.
He didn’t show up at the restaurant and say, corner table ask them to move. Jesus is here. He never… Listen, listen listen, He never played the God card to get his own way. And if your Savior who was willing to stay out of the spotlight that he deserved, that he learned that he had every right to step into, he says, “Now I want you to do for others exactly what I’ve done for you. I want you to forgo your privilege sometimes. I want you to forgo the credit that you deserve I want you to forgo the opportunity that comes along every once in a while to talk about all that you’ve done, so that you can highlight what other people have done.”
Do you do that or is there something in you that’s like you just have to throw your hat in the ring, you just gotta step in. If that’s in you that is gonna undermine your ability to love those around you pay close attention. Pay close attention to your internal reaction to the success of the people closest to you.
How difficult is it for you to celebrate the success of the people who are close to you are closest to you and if there’s something in you that strains and struggles you have work to do. You gotta exercise that muscle you gotta exercise that muscle a lot.
And this third one. This next one is so important in our culture. I thought about just making spending 35 minutes just talking about this one is such a big deal because the Apostle Paul uses a word we don’t use that much that we should use more. Here’s what he says. He said, “Love does not dishonor others, love does not dishonor others.” Love does not behave disgracefully, dishonorably or indecently. Love doesn’t create regret. Love doesn’t insist on another drink. Hey guys, let me ask you this. Do you know, how unique you would be in our world in our culture. Do you know how unique you would be if you decided today I will never dishonor another woman for the rest of my life.
I’m going to honor women, the way that God and Christ honored me. I will not be another woman’s regret. Do you know how unique that would make you? But more importantly than that do you know, how much more like Christ that would make you? We don’t use this term much, honor. But I’m telling you, honor is at the heart of every satisfying relationship. And the Apostle Paul again, he does us a big favor, he actually defines honor for us. Here’s what he says, here’s what it looks like. He says, “If you wanna honor another person, here’s the practical side of it just value others above yourself.” Just value others above yourself because they’re more valuable. No. They’re not more valuable than you, but you treat them as if they’re more valuable. Why? Because that’s what God and Christ for you.
Come on, when Jesus went to the cross, what did he say about you? What do you say about me? If a person is willing to lay down their life for you. Whether or not their life is actually more valuable than yours isn’t the issue, the fact that they would submit themselves to you, place themselves under you take their burden on you. This is what God and Christ modeled for us, this is what honor looks like, this is what it looks like to value someone as if they were more important or greater than yourself. And here’s the thing, everybody listening and everybody in this room and everybody everywhere, watching you know how to do this, you know how to do this, we just don’t do it. Here’s how I know that you know how to do this. Imagine that you had the opportunity to have dinner with your favorite actor, actress or recording artist.
Think about how you would prepare think about all that you would go through to prepare. Think about how you would behave. That’s what honor looks like. It’s treating someone as if they are more important or more valuable than you. Do you know what you would do? You know how to do this, you don’t need any lessons,
You would bring your best version of you to that dinner, you would show up early and if they arrive late, you wouldn’t say, “Hey, Denzel man, where you’ve been. I got stuff to do. Okay, if you’re gonna show up late, I don’t know if we can do this again,” right. No. You’re going to, here’s the word again, you’re gonna defer. It’s not a big deal, it’s not a no, no, no. So I’m so honored to have dinner with you. It doesn’t matter to me that you’re late, the honor is all mine. You know how to do this. That’s what your Heavenly Father did for you and he says “Now, I don’t want you to just love. I want you to love as I have loved you.”
Can I flip this around and give you some dangerous advice? Part of me wants to qualify it and part of me doesn’t wanna qualify it. So I’ll just assume that we’re all mature adults, and you’ll take this, the way. I mean, it. Don’t stay, don’t stay in a relationship where you are consistently constantly dishonored. If you’re dating someone and you’re consistently dishonored break up today.
In fact, you have permission to get your phone out and break up now. [laughter] And I don’t think breaking up with the text is generally a good idea in this case break up now and then hand someone your phone and change your number, okay. If you are in a relationship, I’m serious. If you’re in a relationship where you are consistently and constantly just put down, put down, put down, put down, dishonored get out because eventually, if you don’t, you will come to the conclusion that you are a dishonorable person. And once you conclude you’re a dishonorable person, you will begin to behave dishonorably which keeps the cycle going.
And you need to get out of that because you are inherently honorable. And here’s how I know that even though I haven’t met you. The value of a thing, the value of a thing is determined by the price, it will bring Economics 101. God sent his son into this world to pay a price for you. You’re not even your own. You are extraordinarily valuable, you deserve to be honored because of who you belong to. And if you’re in a relationship where you are dishonored please, please, please get out you say. Well, Andy, I’m married. I know it’s complicated, I’m not advocating for divorce. Please don’t everybody show up tomorrow at the office say, “Well I don’t have any where to go Andy told me to hit the road.” [laughter]
And please don’t use this as an excuse to get out of a relationship that you need to stay in, you’re just not willing to do the work, but if you are in an environment where you are constantly dishonored, it’s so unhealthy. So don’t allow yourself to be dishonored but the real application is this. Don’t dishonor another person. And you already know how to do this now. At this point, especially if you’re in the dating game, you’re thinking, “Okay, time-out, we gotta stop all this. Time out, time out. Andy This is like the worst date ever. I’ve never heard of this is like the worst thing. So we’re gonna get together. I’m gonna be kind. I’m gonna be patient. And then I’m gonna let her tell her stories, And then I’m probably gonna have him drop me off at 8:30 so he’ll have time to get home and get ready for work, or I’ll drop her off at nine, to make sure she has time… ” This sounds like… This sounds terrible.
Of course it does, because you and are raised in a culture and live in a culture where dating isn’t about becoming somebody. We live in a culture where dating is about getting somebody. It’s fueled by the right person myth, it’s fueled by this assumption that I don’t need to prepare, I don’t need to exercise any of these muscles I just need to kinda go out there and hunt, right? [laughter] So here’s the deal, you may not like my version of a date, in fact, you can go out and be impatient and unkind and dishonorable while you look for someone who is patient and kind and honorable, but they’re probably not looking for you, not if they have any sense. This is about preparing to win. This is about exercising these muscles so that when you meet the person of your dreams and I hope everybody does, that you will be prepared.
Because Jesus’ new covenant command and the Apostle Paul’s fine print this is how you become a person worth looking for and if you are in a relationship and married, this is how you become or continue to be someone worth staying for. It’s how you become the person that the person you’re looking for is looking for, and it’s how you become the person the person who entrusted their future to you was hoping for. And I understand why it gets so quiet in messages like this. None of this comes naturally right? Naturally leads to naturally, naturally does not lead to satisfying relationships. Most married people thought this stuff would come naturally once they met the right person. Just to put it out there, they thought, no laughing, their partner would be so perfect, it wouldn’t require any patience.
Come on, we’re adults. We know better than that. This can’t continue to fuel relationship decisions now. For the future. Now here’s the good news, Sandra and I have been married 31 years. That’s not the good news that is good news… But here’s the good news from the 31 years. Marrying someone, marrying well, will make you a better person. When I was dating her when I was on my best behavior we all know how to do that, but in marriage, I’m confronted with the raw me and suddenly those muscles that I hadn’t exercised the way I needed to exercise them, I paid for that. And unfortunately, of course, she paid for that. So if you marry well, you’re gonna face your selfishness and it’s gonna make you better. And here’s the cool thing, for those of you who aren’t married eventually you will, you will perfect it you will overcome all of your self-centeredness. And then you’ll have children. [laughter] Whether you have them biologically or adopt ’em or foster ’em and it starts all over again, and you realize what a creep, you really are. [laughter]
Look. I want you to win relationally, I want you to win relationally, in the relationship you’re in now. I want you to win in a relationship that maybe is in the future for you. And here’s what I know. Between now and then, what you do matters. Between now and then, how you treat people, matters. Between now and then, and how you date, it matters between now and then, how you respond to the people you’re getting close to all of this matters. It is all preparation, and you are either using this time to prepare or you’re thinking “I don’t need to prepare, it’s all gonna work out fine once I meet the right person.
And here’s the promise. And here’s where we’ll pick it up next time. Following Jesus, embracing the fine print that the Apostle Paul is gonna give us some more of next time. Following Jesus, embracing this one overarching, demanding, rewarding command to learn to love as God in Christ has loved us, prepares you to win. So don’t miss part three of Love, Dates, and Heartbreaks.