Are you looking for Christian relationship help to know how to love in a difficult relationship? As Christians, we are commanded to love our neighbors, families, friends, and enemies. Love in a healthy reciprocal relationship is hard enough, but love in difficult relationships is even harder. Scriptural misunderstandings lead people to love wrongly in difficult relationships and as a result, they tolerate mistreatment and allow people to continue to choose destructive actions. What does it really mean to love in a difficult relationship?
The goal of love is for it not to hurt you and not to hurt the other person. Romans 13:10 says, “Love does no harm to its neighbor” (NIV). Love hurts you when it leads you to allow yourself to be mistreated and taken advantage of. Love hurts the other person when it leads you to enable wrongdoing that is ultimately destructive and not in the person’s best interest.
Love includes compassionate toughness. Romans 2:4 says that God’s kindness leads to repentance, but God also allows consequences, convicts of sin, and disciplines us for our own good. God’s compassionate toughness desires that people do what is right because it is in their best long-term interest.
Love allows each person to be self-responsible. Galatians 6:5 says, “Each person is responsible for carrying his own load” (NIV). This self-responsibility also includes bearing the consequences of one’s actions. Galatians 6:7-8 tells us that if we make choices that are good, we will reap good and if we make choices that are bad, we will reap bad. Love in relationships allows the other person to be responsible for his/her own choices and to suffer the consequences.
Love doesn’t force; instead, it allows free choice. Each person has the right to decide for himself or herself. God loved us and let us choose to follow him or to sin. Jesus allowed the rich young ruler to turn down his offer of salvation and to walk away (Matthew 19:22). Love in relationships gives people the dignity to make personal choices for themselves–even if those choices aren’t what is wanted or right.
As you can see, biblical love offers dignity and free choice but also self-responsibility. Its goal is to care for the other person and yourself.
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Karla Downing is an author, speaker, licensed marriage and family therapist, and Bible study teacher. Karla’s passion is to help people find freedom in Christ in the midst of their difficult relationships and circumstances through Biblical truths and practical tools.
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