We were created by God to be in relationship with people - our friends and communities, our families and loved ones, and for many of us our dating relationships and marriage. And in all of these different types of relationships, the one thing that matters most is that we learn to LOVE each other in the way that God first loved us. In a letter to the Corinthian church the apostle Paul explains what love looks like.
“[LOVE] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” - 1 Corinthians 13:7
There are two parts to this verse that I want to explore: TRUST & HOPE.
A healthy relationship is built on a solid foundation of trust. We’ve heard this advice in every dating book, sermon series and podcast over the years. And while this advice is true for every type of relationship (whether it be romantic, friendly or family) we’re mainly going to focus on how it affects romantic relationships.
A healthy romantic relationship requires trust because its the only way for intimacy to grow. Intimacy is defined as closeness with another person. Intimacy is allowing another person into your heart, your mind, and your life so much that they begin to develop a deep understanding of who you are. This kind of closeness requires vulnerability, which first requires trust.
So how do you build trust in a relationship? Where does it come from?
The short answer is that trust grows over time.
You probably won’t (and shouldn’t) fully trust another person in the earliest stages of dating because trust is something that grows out of your experiences together. As you begin to share the deeper parts of your life with another person, what that person chooses to do with that information will either build trust or tear it down. If they honor you with the information that you shared, if they treasure that information, encourage you and celebrate you, that will build trust.
However, if they share your information with other people, or use it to shame or discourage you, trust will be torn down. Where there is a lack of trust, there will be a lack of true, godly intimacy and closeness.
This is why fake dating never works. Where there is no commitment, there will also be little room for trust, which inherently limits the depth of true godly intimacy. And unless the trust is restored between the two people, eventually the relationship will end.
As your relationship with another person grows over time, and your trust in each other continues to strengthen, the fullness of this verse will come into effect for you. Love always trusts the other person. You see, its one thing for trust to grow in the early stages of a relationship, but its an entirely different thing to always choose trust once the relationship has matured.
As a wife (which I know that marriage is still far away for many of you) I make the choice every day to trust my husband to provide for us, to lead us in loving God, and to fight for our purity. He makes the same choice every morning to trust me in those same places. At this point, its second nature for us to always trust one another, but imagine if we didn’t. Imagine if every day I questioned his intentions, motivations, and abilities. It would be impossible for my husband to thrive in those conditions. But by choosing to always trust him, I am actually LOVING HIM. I’m believing in him and in who God has called him to be. I am speaking life and destiny over him, simply by choosing to trust him.
What then does it look like for us to always hope in a relationship?
I think that in relationship hope builds off of trust. To the degree that you trust your boyfriend or girlfriend (eventually your spouse), you will be able to hope in your future with them. If you trust that their life is moving in the trajectory towards God, towards a career that can provide, towards purity, honor and righteousness, then hope will be natural for you.
Hope is a powerful thing in a relationship. In some ways, its what keeps you moving forward together. If you’re dating and you’re a christian, then you HOPE to one day be married. That hope drives you forward in your relationship.
Hope is deeply rooted in our belief that God is good and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him (Hebrews 11:6).
If we are in a relationship that seeks to honor God, then we can rest in the hope that God will provide for us, that God will make a way in the wilderness for our relationship to thrive, and that God will guide us through any difficult seasons.
In our culture today, divorce is a prevalent thing, even among Christians. When Paul described what it looks like to love another person, he said that love always hopes. In marriage, that means don’t ever give up.
God can heal anything, even the worst of circumstances. If you don’t believe me, look up the powerful forgiveness testimony from Part 4 of our More series back in September - its incredible. Love always hopes because we believe in a God that is powerful enough to rescue all us from all of our sins.
Father we pray and ask for you to fill us with a knowledge of your love - the breadth and length and depth and height of your love. We ask that you teach us how to love each other like you do. Teach us how to always trust and always hope. Teach us how to forgive each other and how to speak life and destiny over each other. God I pray that you grant us wisdom to know when a relationship is moving in the right direction and when its honoring to you. And we pray that you heal places of broken trust in all relationships, romantic or non-romantic. We love you. Thank you for loving us. Amen.
Author | Devon Radford