When it comes to relationships, we all probably have a list.
Even if we don’t have an actual physical list, most of us have a good idea of the qualities and characteristics we look for in a relationship.
Whether you’re single, dating, engaged, or married, chances are you’ve at least thought about this list at some point along the way. But have you ever taken the things on that list and turned them around on yourself? Think about it! Of all the qualities you’re looking for in someone else, which ones do you actually possess yourself? In other words, can the person you’re looking for find those qualities and characteristics in you?
Now, before you panic and throw in the towel altogether, remember that it is possible to become that kind of person. How? With God’s help!
Take Paul’s list for example:
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice in injustice, but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance
—1 Corinthians 13:4–7 (NLT)
If this is the kind of person you’re looking for—someone who’s patient, kind, humble, and forgiving—then that’s the kind of person you should strive to be. But it doesn’t stop with these values. The truth is that sin fights hard for a foothold in our most valuable relationships. That’s why it’s also important to be on guard against the things that can harm our relationships, taking extreme measure to rid ourselves of the things that can get in the way. Jesus put it this way:
So if your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
—Matthew 5:29 (NLT)
While this sounds extreme, we have to fight to be the kind of people we want to be—the kind of people we hope others are looking for, too. And sometimes, getting healthy and growing in the values that Paul listed means getting extreme and “gouging out” the parts of our lives that cause us to stumble in that pursuit.
This week, try to memorize 1 Corinthians 13:4–7. As you think both about who you are and about the kind of relationship you have or hope to have, remember both Paul’s words and Jesus’ words. Then ask God to help you “gouge out” the parts of your life that are keeping you from becoming the person who checks off this list.