- Become the right person. Instead of looking for the right person, become the right person. There are two commands in verse 1. The first is “be imitators of God.” Instead of constantly looking for the right person, God tells us to become the right person. Instead of looking for love, God tells us to realize love has already found us. God loves us like no one else ever can or ever will. The best way to demonstrate the love God has shown us is to imitate Him as closely as possible in the way we treat others. In chapter 4 verse 32 it says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God is Christ forgave you.” Imitating God in relationships means that we are to be kind, tenderhearted, willing to make allowances for people’s mistakes, and consistently forgiving. It means we want good for them. We are gentle towards them, even when our needs don’t get met and leave us angry. We forgive them. We who have been freely forgiven by Christ must, in turn, freely forgive others. That is how we imitate God. However, we all know that loving ain’t easy. We struggle to this well. We do not have the power to love this way unless we are filled with God’s love for us, recognize our deepest needs and desires are met through Him, and we’re no longer expecting someone else to come along and complete us. We will not be able to imitate God’s love to others unless we know God love us. Our sense of love must not depend on someone else’s opinion or belief about me. The God, who made us and loves us, calls us to love like he loves us. That is why the idea of finding the right person to complete us in a lie. The key to developing a great relationship is becoming the right person.
- Walk in love. Instead of falling in love, walk in love. Verse 2 commands us to walk in love as Christ loved us. Walking in love is about sacrificial commitment. Walking in love means to give the other person what he or she needs most, when they deserve it least, at great personal cost. That is what God did for us. That is genuine love. Not giving the other person what he or she wants, but what they need. Sometimes those are the same thing, but most of the time they aren’t. Love is sacrificial, other-centered actions that provide what is best for that person. God’s way is very hard on the feelings, but it’s very healthy for the soul. Do not fall in love. Walk in love. Real love isn’t some passive feeling. It’s deliberate, intentional, honest, and even painful self-sacrifice for the other person’s good. No manipulation, no games, and no power trips. When we love in this way, we begin to fan the flames of romance and those feels that we all enjoy.
- Fix your hopes on God and seek to please him through the relationship. Instead of fixing your hopes and dreams on the other person, fix your hope on God and seek to please him through this relationship. You are not the most important person in your relationship. Jesus is. The goal of your relationship is not make you happy. Your goal is to please God. When we go to the other person for personal fulfillment, it never works out. Then we wrongly assume it was the other person’s fault and move on to the next person. We were made for God, and God is the only one who can satisfy our every need. Instead of asking the other person to satisfy our every desire or expecting them to conform to our every need, we must ask God to make us who he wants us to be and to help us walk in love, giving sacrificially what the other person needs. It means accepting that not everything is going to work out great or just the way we want it. There are times in life that are just flat out hard. You and I need to be willing to endure the tough times. Great relationships involves struggle, working through conflict, and refusing to demand that the other person make our lives work for us. God’s approach is the only way that any of us will ever get the intimacy, love, sex, and lasting relationships that we all want. However, there is a fourth step because we are imperfect people.
- If failure occurs, repeat steps 1, 2, and 3. Similar to Hollywood Formula, but not identical, repeat the first 3 steps when failure occurs. God’s prescription is true and right, but we cannot follow it perfectly because we are imperfect. The difference here between the Hollywood formula and God’s is who the blame falls on. Instead blaming the failures in the relationship on the other person, you look in the mirror. You ask yourself, “Am I the man or woman God wants me to be? Am I walking in love?” You ask God, “What would you want to do in me, whether my mate changes at all, that makes me imitate you and walk in love so this relationship is pleasing to you?” This is a radical shift in focus off your natural tendency to blame the other person and instead looking to see what you can do better. Even if you wanted to control the other person and change who they were, you do not have that power. However, how much power do you have to change that person looking back at you in the mirror? 100%. Once you calmly and honestly face a failure, step 4 kicks in. Start over at step 1. Choose to become the right person. Walk through the steps again: imitate God, walk in love, fix our hope on God, and seek to please him in our relationships.