When I was twenty-two I had a relationship with a young man that left me confused. He treated me in a way that made me question everything. Did he like me? Are we just friends? Are we more than friends? Will there ever be more with him? Is this all just in my mind?
Over time I realized that these types of relationships were very common among my other girlfriends. We knew the “stay physically pure” rule, but had never taken into account our emotions.
That was seventeen years ago (yes, I am that old!), and through a series of events I wrote a book called Emotional Purity: An Affair of the Heart where I examined the role of our emotions in relationships through Scripture.
When it comes to relationship, we are bombarded with rules: Guard your heart. Save your self. Avoid the appearance of evil. Wait for marriage. Protect your emotions. Date with a purpose. Be intentional with relationships.
These are all helpful, good, biblical guidelines. The rules in and of themselves aren’t wrong; actually they can be very good!
However, when we start looking to these rules as the plumb line of purity, we’ve lost sight of God’s standard of purity. We become rule-followers, and in a sense we believe we are able to save our purity—both physically and emotionally.
I’ll admit, in my twenties this was my goal—follow the rules! I did follow the rules. I was a good rule-follower. What I didn’t realize was how I had elevated the rules over the relationship with Christ. My relationships had become a checklist of things to do or not do.
To be honest, I am comfortable with rules. They come with a sense of security. If I can follow the right rules, God is happy, right? I mean when I mess up is when God is upset with me, right? Wait . . . not so fast. The gospel isn’t about performance.
As God has grown me in my faith, I have seen that as good as the rules can be, what God wanted from me was faith, trust, and a full embrace of the gospel in how I view relationships with guys!
The gospel, the Good News, isn’t based on my performance. My good behavior doesn’t win God’s favor. My poor actions don’t cause God to turn His back on me. When I was clinging to rules, those rules were my “savior,” not Jesus!
A shift from being a rule-follower to a Christ-follower came as I realized that daily I have to preach the gospel to myself. Daily I sin. Those sins demand a punishment. I deserve eternity separated from a Holy God! Jesus paid for my sins through His death and resurrection. Through trusting in Him, I am adopted into the family of God and have eternal life with God. When God looks at me, He sees the righteousness of Christ. So no amount of “performance” will make God love me any more or any less.
Over the next couple of days I’m going to share my heart of emotional purity and what you are really waiting for! My prayer is that you gain a fresh perspective on making sure you are using the lens of the gospel as you save your heart and body for God’s perfect timing.
What about you? When it comes to purity, are you a rule-follower? Or are you leaning hard on God’s grace to keep your heart pure? Leave me a comment with your answer. I will choose one of you to win a copy of my book, Emotional Purity: An Affair Of The Heart.