Session XII of Love and Relationships!
If you are thinking, wait, I might get hurt. Or, I have been rejected after I spent so much of my time and energies on so-and-so. Well, take to heart this valuable point; you did not waste your time. God has born your hurt, too!
When love is practiced, our relationships are certain to succeed. When we practice love, we are both trusting and obeying our Lord, doing His prime will. We can take to heart that the love we give will never be defeated, no matter how poorly people treat us in return, or, only appear to be playing their part. When we give love and it is not returned, the hurt and rejection we receive is not in vain. We may feel hurt, confused, and not understand what has happened or why we did not succeed. But, in God's eyes, we did succeed. Our time of giving love did not go to waste! We all, at some time, will experience love for someone who did not return it to us; perhaps you were even the one who did not return it to someone else. There are a multitude of reasons for that. Maybe the love was not meant to be; perhaps he/she was the wrong person for you. Maybe you got your singles crossed, or maybe you were too afraid to take the chance. Maybe the fear of being rejected consumed you, so, you are alone now. Your hurt has become your identity, while love and relationships go unmet and undone. If this is your life, remember what God's Word has to say: Love is never offered in vain. Your hurt has not been borne alone.
Once we fully realize that the love of Christ has been poured out in us, we then can identify ourselves in Him. We will be able to identify Christ's interests in others over our own interests (John 15:3; Romans 9:3; 1 Corinthians 9:22).
Just think this through: how much would your marriage, your family relationships, friends, people at school or at the office, improve if you were practicing these love truths, even if they were not! The world says that love must flow two ways, but God says otherwise. Yes, it is better when both parties in a relationship are practicing the elements of 1 Corinthians 13, but we are called to love, even when they do not!
We are to be fueled and empowered by love through all situations. Christian love is the turning of our backs to self-concerns, and facing forward to our relationships with family, friends, and neighbors. It is the surrender of our will to His. Because, if love does not take us beyond our self-interests, then what we have is lust, and not love! Then as the passage says, we are just noise that has no reason or purpose. Out of true love, God the Father gave us His Son, and the Son gave us His life in replacement for ours. The Son sent the Spirit to save us, and we should be literally overwhelmed-consumed with extreme joy and gratitude by what God has done for us. Then, that can turn and spill onto others around us too. If not, then read Romans 1:21!
Read Romans 1:21; 5:1-5; 9:3, then discuss this section and answer these questions:
1. Do you know people who are very optimistic? How do they make you feel when you are "down," and feeling upset?
2. How can our riches/glory, be translated into being a wonderful Christian, filled and overflowing with love, hope, joy, and grace?
3. How does knowing that love will live far beyond the moments of our life improve your relationships?
4. Why is it so hard to love people who treat us with contempt or who do not see us as valuable enough to care for?
5. What is the role of repentance? How do you keep repentance in your "queue" that is on top of your mind?
6. What must you do to encourage the desire to create growth and maturity in your life?
7. Our confidence is in Christ and His character, not in self-esteem. So, how do you apply this "Christ-esteem"?
8. How can, and why, do trials work in favor of us, (Romans 8:28) and not against us? How can trials promote spiritual growth?
9. We must be careful that our faith and love is developed from God's nature, and not ours! So, how can you do this?
10. How much would your marriage, your family relationships, friends, people at school, church, or at the office improve if you were practicing these love truths, even if they were not?
11. Reread 1 John 4:7-12, then, write out your own paraphrase.
We cannot prove love; we can only respond and obey it!