Date in the Delight of Your First Love (Dating 101)
Would you like a dating life defined by calm instead of confusion, peace instead of apprehension, and redemption instead of regret? How about one that is deeply meaningful, but also a ton of fun; guided by wisdom, but still filled with wonder?
And yes, a dating life that eventually leads you into a life-giving, life-long marriage. A marriage which you look back on as the best decision you ever made (after surrendering to Christ). A marriage to the one who becomes the single most encouraging, understanding and empowering person in your life (in human skin).
If the thought of a dating life like that makes your heart beat a bit faster, you need to grasp two important truths:
- This is precisely the kind of dating life your Heavenly Father would like for you.
- Doing all the right things isn’t enough.
So were the believers in a city called Ephesus, to whom God addressed these words (note: I changed the word “apostles” to “dating candidates” for the sake of application):
“I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men [or women], and you put to the test those who call themselves [dating candidates], and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first;”
So the Ephesians appear to be doing all the right things. Their accomplishments, effort, perseverance, purity, discernment, endurance and commitment are all commended.
And yet it wasn’t enough. They were doing what should have been pleasing to God, yet He wasn’t pleased.
Do you feel that way sometimes; particularly in your dating life?
Does it seem like you’ve been doing all the right things and yet you still feel distant from God, like you just can’t please Him?
Then let’s look at what God’s concern was with the church at Ephesus:
“But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”
What if God is concerned less with right actions and more with right affection? And just to clarify here: God is not some forlorn lover, who wants to be needed and needs to be wanted. He’s the all sufficient creator and sustainer of the universe, so when He recognizes that He’s lost the affection of His beloved (that’s us) His concern isn’t for Himself, but for the pain that will bring to His beloved alone. You see, God’s not only all-sufficient. He’s also love itself and He delights greatly in bringing about the very best for His beloved.
“Therefore remember from where you have fallen…”
What if the failure in our dating life has less to do with failing to keep the rules of God, than it does in failing to nurture our relationship with God?
What if He’s less interested in us being righteous than He is in us being right by His side?
“…repent and do the deeds you did at first;”
What if repentance doesn’t require working harder, but surrendering more? And what if understanding what God most wants from you is the secret to walking in passion and purpose in all areas of your life, including your relationships?
Here’s the truth that’s too wonderful to fully grasp: more than He wants us to abide in His law, God wants us to abide in His love. Not that we can’t do both (indeed, both go together seamlessly), but our focus should be on the latter instead of the former.
Then let us consider this admonition from Psalm 37:3-5 (ESV):
“Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.”
I don’t know about you, but my natural inclination is to hear what I want to hear, and what I want to hear in this verse is: God will give me the desires of my heart. Perhaps you might confess to hoping God will give you a supermodel spouse who considers you their sex god. Or maybe you have more conservative aspirations, like the perfect home filled with the perfect kids spilling out into the perfect landscaped yard surrounded by the perfect picket fence. Or perhaps you want to make sure you can have the dream home along with the successful career. Or ministry. So maybe we’re talking only one kid. Maybe two.
But before we get to the “desires of my heart part,” this passage tells me to delight myself in the Lord. Strong’s Concordance defines that in this way, “to be happy about; to take exquisite delight in.” If you have ever delighted in the Lord, you already know how everything else the world has to offer fades away.
As I delight myself in the Lord, my desire for earthly things diminishes.
That includes all the things I wanted when I was six (a Corvette), and 9 (a girlfriend), and 22 (a high-paying job), and 28 (my mom to still be alive), and 37 (to be doing FMU full-time). Instead, I find I desire different things… like holiness, righteousness, patience.
And more than any of that, I desire Him. I want my first love to be the focus of my heart.
What is happening here? God is giving me the desires of my heart. Different desires than I had before; desires which He not only wants me to have, but fully intends to satisfy.
Now imagine dating like that!
If I’m truly delighting in my first love, I’ll be studying and even memorizing portions of the book of love He wrote for me. I’ll be discovering how the truth of scripture should inform my dating decisions. I’ll find encouragement and counsel in those pages, even when my dating life seems on indefinite hold.
If I’m truly delighting in my first love, I won’t just merely attend church, I’ll be actively serving it and praying for its flourishing. I’ll also seek the counsel of older, wiser believers who delight in Him too. And, of course, there would be no way I’d settle for dating someone who didn’t obviously delight in Him and His church as well.
If I’m truly delighting in my first love I’ll be seeking Him in prayer at every turn (“What church should I join? How can I keep my career from crowding out time with you? What book of the Bible should I be soaking in? How could I prepare for the marriage I believe you’re calling me to?)
Have you been persevering, resisting temptation, carefully discerning your dating choices, and enduring for His name’s sake? Wonderful!
Make sure you’re doing all those right things for the right person. Delight yourself in your first love and then watch how He shapes your desires and directs your dating life!
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.” – Psalm 37:4-5
Liked what you read here? Check out our LoveEd video series: Purpose-Driven Dating on our FMUniversity YouTube channel!
To start back with the first post in our Dating 101 series click here:
DNA: It’s What’s For Dating
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The LoveEd study guide series, Beyond Sex & Salvation, will empower you to prepare for relational success when it counts: BEFORE YOU FALL IN LOVE! It’s NOT for couples, but for any wise individual who thinks they might want to get married sometime before they die. Check out the first two 8-lesson study guides in our store. You can walk through it on your own, but it’s more fun with friends, so consider putting together an FMU LoveEd small group study. Even better? And ask a married couple you respect to lead it!