As a Christian, one of the most important things in your life should be your relationships. God has told us to love him first and foremost. But he has told us the second most important part of our life is to love other people (Matthew 22:36-40).
Therefore, our human relationships should be ultra-important to us. Whether it is a marriage or a dating relationship, there are certain biblical principles that can help you have healthier connections with the people you love.
There are so many things that could be said when covering a huge topic like “Christian Relationship Advice.” Here are just 7 of the top Christian principles I believe can help your marriage or dating relationship.
1.How You Treat Her/Him Is a Reflection of Your Relationship With God
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:36-40)
It’s amazing to think that all the laws God had for his people in the Old Testament are reduced to just two. But why not just one? Why isn’t the whole law summed up in “Love God.” It seems the first law relates more to the condition of heart and the second law relates more to the external expression of the heart. When you are obeying the first law to love God in your whole self (i.e. heart, soul, and mind), you will automatically fulfill the second greatest commandment through your actions (loving your neighbor).
And vice-versa. If you don’t love God, you will disobey the heart of the entire moral law.Those that have the lowest view of God have the lowest value for human life. God is the source of all morality and true love. When you disbelieve in him, you begin to lose your moral bearing and ability to love. He’s the standard to which all humans are accountable to.
The clearer we see God the better our choices will be because we will be able to better see what we are called to imitate – the most pure and loving Person ever. If you don’t know God, you don’t know true love. And if you don’t know true love, you won’t be able to show true love. 1 John 4:20-21 explains:
If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
Christian relationship advice: Therefore if you want to love well in relationships as a Christian, you need a healthy relationship with God first.
2. How He/She Treats You Is a Reflection of Their Relationship with God
It’s really not about you. Everything is about God. Even when people don’t love you well, the reason for their lack of love is really all about their relationship with God. Just as you will not be able to love and serve people well without staying connected to Christ, other people will not be able to love you well if their walk with God is not going well. If someone is showing you beautiful examples of sacrificial love, it is because they are having rich, daily encounters with the God who is love.
Therefore, always support their decision to put God before you. Never complain about their desire to go to church, to go to small group, or to read their Bible by themselves sometimes. To spend time focusing on God, they will need to spend less time focusing on you. So don’t resent this, encourage it, because in the long-run they will be able to love you better if they put God before you.
When my wife does a Beth Moore study, she has less time for me when the kids go to bed because she’s spending an hour studying God’s word. It’s tempting to start complaining. But every time she does a Beth Moore study, at the end of it I can tell she has grown. Why would I hinder that? So we can watch a few more Netflix episodes together?
Also, it helps to keep this principle in mind because it can help you be less hurt when someone doesn’t treat you right. Of course offenses will hurt us. But we will be less offended if we keep in perspective that the reason someone is sinning against us is ultimately because they are sinning against God.
Christian relationship advice: It’s not about you! Even when your spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend is taking it on you, God is still the main variable in the equation of a healthy relationship.
3. Show Him/Her Grace Like God Gives You Grace
There are no perfect relationships on earth because there are no perfect people. A relationship will only be as healthy as the hearts of those involved. Therefore, you will never have lasting, good relationships, no matter what advice you are following, if you do not have an abundance of grace for other people.
If you want the ultimate example of a how to love someone, just look at how God loves you. How many times have you sinned against him? How many times have you said something stupid? How many times have you fallen through on your commitments to God? And how has he responded to you each and every time? He’s show you grace (Romans 5:20)!
God always forgives. He certainly sets boundaries and lovingly disciplines us. So I’m not saying you just let an endless cycle of abuse take place on you. But if you want to have healthy relationships, you will need to show people a lot of grace.
Christian relationship advice: Give your significant other the grace God gives you.
4. Ask Questions and Listen More
The health of your relationships will be directly linked to the health of your communication. Most of us have no trouble filling the air with our own words and worries. We struggle, however, to really listen and understand what others are going through.
So if you want to really make your spouse, your kids, your boyfriend or girlfriend, your coworkers, or even just a stranger you meet on the subway feel like you really love them, make sure you ask good questions and be a good listener. The Lord listens to us, and if want to love others well and have great relationships, we need to slow down and actually listen to what other people are saying:
In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears. (Psalm 18:6)
“I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. 2 Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.” (Psalm 116:1-2)
Christian relationship advice: Your significant other will love being around you if you are good listener.
5. Don’t Try to Turn Her/Him Into Your Minion
It is better to give than receive. When you get into a relationship to be served, you always want more and more. Eventually you burn the other person out or you become dissatisfied with him or her because they are not filling you like you want. When you try to make someone into your person minion, they might do it for awhile, but eventually they will grow to resent your selfishness. In Acts 20:35, Paul said:
In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
The more you love in deed, the more you will feel the emotional love as well. Plus, most people, unless they are selfish or immature, will see how loving you are towards them and show their gratitude. If getting gratitude is your primary motivation, you will probably be disappointed a lot. But in general, the more you love someone, the more they will appreciate you. And as well all know, it sure is nice to be appreciated.
If no one is showing you gratitude, it could mean you are serving a very selfish crowd or person. But it also could mean you are not serving them very well.
Christian relationship advice: People know when you are just using them. If you want to be appreciated, give your significant other a reason to appreciate you.
6. Value Diversity, Don’t Try to Turn Your Significant Other Into Your Own Image
Another sinful tendency humans have is to try to turn those they are in relationship with into their own image. When a husband and wife argue, sometimes one of them is right and the other is wrong. But most times the argument is simply an effort to turn the other person into their own image.
We often think our personality type, our desires, and our personal preferences are “right.” Most church splits are not about a doctrinal issue. Most church splits occur because of personal preferences and an unwillingness to see things from a different perspective. If you truly love someone, your hope for him or her should be that they look more and more like Christ (Romans 8:29), not like you.
So if the argument is about whether or not something is sinful or not sinful, by all means, continue the debate. But if you are arguing over something that is actually morally neutral and there is not a clear, biblical doctrine to settle the dispute, than you should do your best to compromise because you are probably operating out of sinful desire to turn other people into your own image.
Christian relationship advice: Help your spouse or girlfriend/boyfriend express the image of Christ through their unique personhood. Don’t try to turn people into your own image, making doctrines out of your personal preferences.
7. Accept the Things that Won’t Change About Him/Her and Respond Accordingly
Signs of maturity are awareness and acceptance. Denial is always the foundation for a slow and painful relationship death.
Look, I know it’s hard, but sometimes you just need to accept how people are. We can hope for change, we can even try to help someone change, but after awhile all you are going to do is ruin the relationship even more if you try to force someone to act a certain way that you want.
If someone you love and are in relationship has something about them that you wish would change but it just isn’t, you have to have awareness on when to stop pushing and just accept that part about him or her for right now. Plus, sometimes people refuse to change even more when we try to force them to.
We only have control over ourselves. Therefore, if someone is not changing, you have to accept it and respond accordingly. If you are married, you will just need to learn to deal with your spouse’s flaws in your own way through the grace of God. If you are in a dating relationship with this person, perhaps this means you need to end the relationship. Or perhaps you just need to let it go and accept that their negative character trait is just something you will need to overcome yourself whenever it comes up.
Christian relationship advice: Be mature enough to know what is and is not going to change in the relationship and take responsibility for the only thing you truly have control over – yourself.