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If you don’t have a relationship with God, can you ever love someone else?

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If you don’t have a relationship with God, can you ever love someone else?—Razberri Girl, 15, IL


Shayna Answers:

Dear Razberri Girl,

We’re created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), and since by definition God is love (1 John 4:8), we all have the capacity to love others. You are correct in pointing out, though, that our relationship with God plays a huge role in how we’re able to love others.

Ever since sin polluted the world, we’ve been forced to live with a sinful nature. Galatians 5:16-18 explains that our propensity to sin is in conflict with God’s Spirit. Then verses 19-26 explain which of our actions stem from our sinful nature and which ones stem from the Holy Spirit. Love is listed as a fruit of the Spirit (verse 22), suggesting that without God in our lives, we can’t fully experience love.

For most people, falling in love is a short-term, fleeting feeling. But, staying in love is another story! This is because, as 1 Corinthians 13:1-8 explains, love isn’t just a feeling, it’s an action. And since the sinful and spiritual sides of our nature are always fighting against each other, love can be a whole lot of work!

Everyone notices flaws and dislikes about their significant other. At some point a significant other is bound to disappoint us. So when we don’t react selfishly to any of the negative aspects of our relationship, it’s because we’re demonstrating an aspect of love. Without love, we’re prone to jealousy, cheating, rage, or just walking away from our relationships. The only way to make relationships work is to actively practice love.

It’s our relationship with God that helps us have long-term love for a significant other. After all, 1 John 4:19 reminds us that we can love others, because God first loved us. Also, it’s out of respect and honor for God that we show love to other people (Matthew 25:40; John 15:13).

In Matthew 22:39 God says that we should love our neighbors as much as we love ourselves. Then Ephesians 5:25 points out that husbands should love their wives as Christ loved the church. We do both because John 14:15 says that if we love God, we will obey His commands. In other words, every loving expression that we show to someone else is a translation of the love that comes from our relationship with God.

Without a higher calling from God, many people lack an incentive to show love to others. After all, working through problems and forgiving the person that we’re dating is really hard. Being loving isn’t taking the easy route!

Psalm 127:1 says that unless the Lord builds the house, people labor in vain. This means that unless God is in the midst of our relationships—or anything else we attempt to build— they just aren’t going to last.

So, yes, we do need to have a relationship with God before we can show love to one another for long periods of time. We all have the ability to love, but we need God’s help to be able to experience love to the fullest!



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