Relationships That Last
How do we experience joy in our relationships? Like, real, lasting joy? Whether it’s in our marriages or relationships with friends and family, we have to do something that goes against what culture teaches.
One of the secrets to experiencing joy and fulfillment in a relationship is to focus on giving rather than receiving.
Sounds obvious? Okay, but how many of us actually DO that?
This concept definitely isn’t what society teaches that will make us happy. But, the truth is, God designed our relationships to serve others. We have to focus on giving rather than receiving if we want to experience healthy, happy relationships.
This is called love. We focus on giving rather than receiving. That's what love is. The Bible says, that God is love, that God is a giver, that every good gift comes down from God, "For God so loved the world that He gave." We can give without loving, but we cannot love without giving. Love is giving. That's the whole essence of love. It's giving rather than receiving. When we focus on giving rather than receiving in our relationship, we're being most like God. Because that's the loving thing to do.
Acts 20:35 You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus, "It is more blessed to give than receive."
A lot of what is called love today, really isn't. Love is based on giving. Lust is based on getting. A lot of so-called love songs, they're not love songs -- they're lust-songs. Why are so many marriages falling apart at such a rapid rate today? Society says, “Look out for Number One.” That's a great way to be miserable. The world says, “I've got to do what's best for me.” Conventional wisdom says, “What's in it for me?” If all of a sudden there's nothing left for me in the relationship then, “forget it, I'm out of here.”
The reason why there are so many poor relationships today is that they are built on the wrong kind of love. There are three kinds of love. The first two don't work.
1. I'll love you IF.
I love you if... you love me, I love you if... you will please me, I love you if... you'll be cool, I love you if... you'll provide me certain financial gain, I love you if... you give me status, I love you if... you do things the way I want you to do them.
The problem is, what happens if the "if" changes? A lot of people get married on "I love you if..." Then the “if” changes and the relationship is over. This is conditional love, and it doesn't last.
2. I love you BECAUSE.
This is better, but not much. I love you because... you're good looking, I love you because... you're talented, I love you because... you're a great person, I love you because... you do things for me, I love you because... you're doing something right now for me. But again, what happens if somebody comes along that matches the qualifications better? What if you find somebody who's smarter, who's prettier, handsomer, wealthier, or pays more attention to you? Then the relationship dies.
3. I love you PERIOD.
This is the love that focuses on giving rather than receiving. It's almost, I love you in spite of... the fact that you're not a perfect human being, I love you in spite of... the fact that you don't have it all together, I love you in spite of... the fact that there may be somebody better looking, or more talented or smarter out there. I love you PERIOD. I choose to love you PERIOD. You could bring the most beautiful woman in the world in here and have her be the most talented person and even the most spiritually committed person in the world and I'd still choose my wife. Why? Because I love her, period. I have made a choice.
And the truth is, that’s the love that produces joy.
Focusing on giving rather than receiving is a choice. We wonder why there's no joy in our relationship any more. The focus has suddenly shifted from "How can I serve you?" to "Let's serve me."
You may be thinking, "Yeah, but, when I get home from work, I'm exhausted, I don't have anything left to give." That's why we need Jesus Christ on a daily basis. That's why we need His power to give us love when human love and energy runs out.
Joy comes from making other people happy in every relationship you have. Your marriage. Your kids. Your friends and family. Joy doesn't come from making me happy, joy comes from making other people happy. God designed it that way. We're wired that way.