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Vital Principles for Healthy Relationships

Christian Living

by Jim Gallagher

Vital Principles for Healthy Relationships

"You shall go... and take a wife for my son Isaac.” Genesis 24:4

Relationships are a key part of life. Healthy relationships lead to a good life and unhealthy relationships will make life very difficult. The most important earthly relationship is marriage and who you marry is the second most important decision in life (second only to receiving Christ). Solomon wrote, "He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the LORD" (Proverbs 18:22). Genesis 24 tells the story of how Isaac and Rebekah met. Their story is a bit different than most of ours because the marriage was arranged, but there are some vital principles to keep in mind for any relationship.

But he said to me, ‘The Lord, before whom I walk, will send His angel with you and prosper your way; and you shall take a wife for my son from my family and from my father's house. Genesis 24:40

First, it is important to remember that God has a plan for you. Paul wrote that God has foreordained good works for us to walk in. That includes whom we will marry. Long before Abraham's servant arrived at the well, the angel of the Lord was there preparing the way. To think that God has forgotten you is bad theology and often leads to bad decisions. When we forget that God has a plan for us, we get impatient and begin to settle for less. Imagine if Adam did not wait on the Lord, he may have ended up with an ape.

Secondly, we are told where they met. Abraham was adamant that Isaac's bride not be selected from the Canaanites. The reason for this was that they were ungodly. If Isaac was going to have a good marriage he must choose a godly wife. As his servant went on the search he selected a location where the young women gathered to draw water. I have been told that the three most important rules of real estate are location, location, location. The same is true of relationships. If Isaac was going to find a godly wife, he needed to look in the right places. Too often people become lonely, impatient and discouraged. When they have not found the right someone, they lower their standards and start looking in the wrong places. Remember there are certain places that are off limits. Looking for a relationship with an unbeliever, off limits. Looking for a relationship with someone who is married, off limits. Looking for a godly relationship amidst ungodly people, foolish.

Thirdly, Abraham's servant had a high standard. He was first taken by the beauty of Rebekah, but that beauty was soon overshadowed by her godliness. She revealed her godliness in her willingness to serve and her great faith. Having never met Isaac, she was willing to trust the Lord and move forward with the relationship. Solomon wrote,

"Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised." Proverbs 31:30

One of the grave mistakes that we make is in seeking a spouse instead of seeking the Lord. 

Notice also that while the servant is out searching, Isaac is at home waiting on the Lord. This serves as a vivid illustration. Isaac represents the believer waiting on the Lord and the servant represents the Holy Spirit at work. Isaac finds his bride, not by seeking her but by seeking the Lord. Jesus said, "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). One of the grave mistakes that we make is in seeking a spouse instead of seeking the Lord. There are things worse than being single. That is not a curse but a condition in which you must learn to trust in and walk with the Lord. Who you are and what you do while single is a picture of who you will be and what you will do when you are married. If you are discontent, distracted and compromising now, you will do the same when married. The key is to rest in Christ, trust in Him and faithfully wait for Him to provide you with your spouse.

Allow me to give one more bit of guidance. Sometimes a person will remain single because they either have unrealistic expectations of others, or they are set in their ways and unwilling to make any changes for the sake of a relationship. Relationships cannot happen if we are not willing to let go of self, humble ourselves and exalt the needs of the other. Rebekah was willing to give up her way of life for the sake of a relationship with Isaac. Isaac was willing to forsake the ways of the world around him and give himself to Rebekah alone. Once married it did not mean that life went on without difficulty. Later we will read that after twenty years of marriage, they were still unable to have children. Rather than become angry with God or their circumstances, we are told that they cried out to the Lord. The secret to solving relationship problems is found in seeking the guidance of God.

Whatever state you are currently in, whether you are single and waiting or married and struggling, the key to success is learning to trust in and wait upon the Lord. Remember, He has a plan for your life and much of that plan has to do with making you into the person He desires for you to become.