As I sat staring at the computer screen, I wondered why God instructed me to wait until today to post part 2 of the series ‘Purposeful Dating.’ After a period of searching internally, the purpose of God’s instructed delay has been made perfectly clear. Everything I mentioned in part 1 of ‘purposeful dating’ is very relevant to identifying and selecting the right mate for your life (see link here All of part 1’s ‘purposeful dating’ do’s and don’ts should definitely be taken into account in order to preserve and protect the integrity of evaluating potential lifemates. However, part 2 of ‘purposeful dating’ deals more with understanding the totality of a person’s love and respect for himself or herself, and their love and respect for others. At the end of the day, bringing two people into co-existence with one another is all about a Christ-centered focus…love and respect.

Love is the essence of being so into a person that you don’t abandon them in the midst of their inadequacies, mistakes and shortcomings. Love is not about what you can receive from a person, but more about what you can give to a person (emotionally, spiritually and physically upon being united in marriage). Love is all about self-sacrifice and not self-fulfillment.

Respect, simply stated, is the ability to appreciate a person’s being, opinion and/or perspective despite your feelings about them. Respect allows you to value a person to the point where disagreements don’t prohibit your ability to receive from them and de-value their input.

As I continue to spend time in personal reflection, it is becoming more apparent that the relationships we all desire to possess have been clouded by the superficiality of our culture, society and ourselves. The source of most ‘contemporary dating’ failures center around selfishness, lack of love for ourselves and lack of respect (the inability to control the thoughts and actions of those we ‘date’).

A short time ago I had a conversation with a pastor of Jamaican descent that literally blew me away. He spoke about how Americans have lost the true understanding and meaning of relationships. He continued by saying that we are so driven by materialism, timelines and self-gratification that we have lost the true essence of what defines relationships (love and respect). Jamaicans believe that Americans associate with others based on convenience. We have become so consumed by professional advancement, money and power that we no longer appreciate genuine relationships. WOW!!

It’s amazing how we can pour so much time, effort and forgiveness into things that mean so little, but yet limit the same effort towards people that ‘supposedly’ mean so much to us. A challenge to myself, and you as readers, is to increase the level of love and respect we demonstrate towards those in our friendship circles, workplace associations and our family relationships. If we continue developing our personal relationship skills, we will be able to quickly discern/identify potential mates who are worth investing time in. As we become more experienced in developing casual relationships, we will have more success with our ‘purposeful dating’ relationships. The belief is that God will bless our faithfulness, but as with all relationships…they begin with you.

I’ve provided a powerful passage on Christian love just in case you need a refresher!

1 John 4:7-21

Knowing God Through Love7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Seeing God Through Love 12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

The Consummation of Love17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him[b] because He first loved us.

Obedience by Faith20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can[c] he love God whom he has not seen? 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.

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