In the ultimate act of love, God made Himself vulnerable in Christ. With this in mind, Paul described for the church in Corinth the seven dos and seven don’ts of this active, self-sacrificial, fulfilling grace each one of us desires: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud” (1 Corinthians 13:4). “It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:5). “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6). “It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:7). Christ will transform any relationship when we apply these characteristics of His heart.
If you are single, first surrender any pressure to find your soulmate within any artificially-crafted timeline. Next, ask yourself if a new relationship will help your academic endeavors, deepen your intimacy with God, better your relationship with friends and family, improve your extracurricular activities, increase your service in your church, advance the kingdom of God, and grow your career. If the answer to just one of these areas is no, stop and reconsider. In order to discover who might be a wise option for you, seek someone who embodies Paul’s characteristics of love. Make a list of additional values you desire in your future spouse. During your daily endeavors, initiate conversations with people who embody these traits. It has been said that you can learn more about someone by watching them play for an hour, than seeing them work for a year. Consequently, group game nights can help reveal anyone’s true character. You will know you have discovered the right person when both of you want to offer Paul’s disciplines of love more than you want to receive them.
If you are a young woman, decide by whom, where, when, why, and how you want to be pursued before any emotional connection exists. Consider making a list of young men who interest you and wholeheartedly follow Christ. Next, make a list of the males in your life who do not. If a guy from either category begins to pursue you, this list can remind you of your perspective when you pondered the subject more clearly. The Holy Spirit will equip you to wisely nurture the right pursuit.
If you are married, ask God for wisdom regarding how to improve intimacy in your relationship with your spouse. Rather, than placing Paul’s grid as a grading template on your mate, determine whether you are wholeheartedly modeling Paul’s fourteen traits of love. Focus on applying one each day, for the next two weeks, all the while remembering: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).