The BIG IDEA
God calls us to be wise in our dating relationships by guarding our heart and loving others well.
Just like this guy is holding tightly to his heart, we need to be wise when, how, and to whom we give our hearts away. Our hearts are the source of our life.
We tend to treat dating relationships like the world around us does. In doing so, we give very little thought to how God wants us to approach these relationships. We get so caught up in the other person that we don’t guard our hearts, and our dating relationships may leave us with scars and pain that could have been avoided.
Recognizing that our heart is the wellspring of life, we guard our hearts and choose to love ourselves, others, and God the way each was meant to be loved.
Why THIS MATTERS
It’s difficult to know how to approach romantic relationships today. There are so many mixed messages from the media. It’s also easy to get so caught up in the other person (or worrying we won’t find the right person) that our relationship with God gets pushed aside. This study is designed to help us learn how to wisely guard our hearts and love each other as God intends.
I WANT MY STUDENTS TO:
- KNOW: God’s view of love and how to guard our hearts when it comes to romantic relationships.
- EXPERIENCE: Freedom to love people as God has designed rather than as the world tells us to. Joy in our relationships as we learn to guard our hearts and put God first.
- DO: Form a picture of what a godly relationship looks like and be content where we are. For those currently in a relationship, ask how God wants them to guard their hearts and take action to love the way God intends.
- This study is intentionally vague.
- Proverbs 4:23.
- Tell your story.
- Follow their lead and ask good questions.
- Talk about forgiveness and a fresh start.
The idea box is a place where you can find some creative ideas for leading this study. You might find videos, activities, or great illustrations that really bring the main point home. The ideas come from small group leaders like you, so if you have an idea that isn’t in there, click below to share it with the community!
*WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Today we are talking about relationships. Raise your hand if you would like to be married someday. If your answer is “yes,” what are some characteristics you would want in your spouse?
For most of us, marriage is a long way away, but the qualities we look for in the people we choose to date or have romantic relationships with are often similar to the qualities we would want in a marriage. The number one thing most people look for is love. In our culture we throw around the word “love” all the time, but if we want to know how God defines love, we should look to the Bible.
Possible Story: Joseph and Mary Matthew 1:18‒24
WHAT DOES GOD SAY ABOUT THIS?
*1. After reading the I Corinthians verses, how would you say this definition of love is different from much of the love we see in relationships today?
All the words defining love from this passage are other-centered as opposed to the many self-centered ways we often love in our relationships.
*2. What parts of these verses describe ways you’d like for people to love you? (ie. patient, kind, etc)
Helping the students identify how they would like to be loved will help them better understand how to love others.
3. If our dating relationships (or someday our marriages) reflected this definition of love, how would they be different from relationships built mostly on feelings and doing what everyone else is doing?
Whenever we use God’s word and the power of his Spirit to guide and empower us in our lives, the result is always an other-centered love and things like peace, patience, and kindness. Much of the love we see in the world is all about making us feel good and about getting our own way. Guide the discussion along these lines and encourage the students to keep referring to the 1 Corinthians passage.
*4. Read the Proverbs 4:23 passage and put it into your own words. What do you think God is trying to tell us here?
This passage states, “Above all else, guard your heart, Everything you do comes from it.” When you allow your heart to go wherever it wants, it will often draw you away from the things of God. That can affect your whole life. God is saying to be wise.
HOW DO WE APPLY THIS TO OUR LIVES?
*5. From what should we guard our hearts in a romantic relationship?
Allow the students to come up with their own thoughts about this at first. Note that this is the point in the study where you can bring up specific issues that your students may wrestle with. Every group is different but your students need wisdom and guidance from older, godly people in their lives (that’s you). Below is a list of issues you might want to bring up with them. You won’t have time to talk about every topic, but pick one or two that you think are most relevant to your group. The points you bring out here will make the next few questions more meaningful:
- Sex before marriage
- Dating a non-believer
- How far is too far even before having intercourse?
- Being so focused on your boyfriend/girlfriend that you exclude others from your life
- Breaking up with someone because they are not good for you
- Making that person or relationship into an idol
- Looking to that person to fulfill you or complete you in a way that only God can
6. Why does God want us to guard our hearts in romantic relationships?
Romantic relationships often have such a powerful pull on our lives that they can pull us away from God. We begin to care more about that human relationship and what he/she wants than what God wants. God always wants what is best for our hearts in any situation. When we follow his instructions and ask for power and wisdom, he is free to accomplish his will in our lives. He wants to provide safety and keep us free from evil influences, shame, and scars resulting from not listening to his instruction.
*7. What are some ways we can guard our hearts better?
This is a good chance to hear from the students and find out their ideas. Hopefully the discussion will include learning to trust God with issues of the heart, living in the power of the Holy Spirit, and seeking out wisdom from the Bible and other believers. More practical things might be discussed like how to avoid temptation, confess sin, and being on the alert against lies and deceptions from our culture.
*8. What role would you say the Holy Spirit and God’s word plays in protecting our heart in relationships?
God works through his Spirit and word to point us to the life and wholeness he wants us to experience in relationships. We are not strong enough or wise enough to protect our own hearts in relationships. That is why we need the power of the Holy Spirit in this area as well as every area of our lives. As we mature in our faith this truth becomes more obvious. Guide the discussion toward our weakness and his strength, realizing that this takes time and maturity and is an ongoing process.
*Pray: Leader, ask God to give his perspective on relationships and ask for guidance from the Holy Spirit as the students deal with these issues in their lives.
Our review cards are an excellent way to review your past lessons with your students before each study. Not every lesson has one yet but if we have them, you can find them on the PRINT page. Check them out and use them each week to help your students grab hold of the truths in these studies.
What ideas do you have that could improve this study? Are there creative things you do to bring this topic home to your students? Please share with the community clicking the FEEDBACK button or leaving a comment below.