Daily Distinctives, April 11, 2018 – The Original Thigh Master and Courtship

And so coming to Genesis chapter 24 today in my devotional I am borrowing from a study I did many years ago around the topic of courtship and dating. My wife, Erin and I had a formal courtship, and while we did not view it as some elite, holier-than-thou, process that made us better than other dating couples, it was good for us and we certainly gleaned a lot from our own experiences. But as it pertains to courtship and dating, or any relationship for that matter, there are some biblical tenants that would do us all well to consider. And so for my devotional today I thought that I would re-examine something I wrote way back when and add to it, only this time with a little more wisdom afforded by years of marriage.

[Gen 24:1 NKJV] Now Abraham was old, well advanced in age; and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things.
[Gen 24:2 NKJV] So Abraham said to the oldest servant of his house, who ruled over all that he had, “Please, put your hand under my thigh,
[Gen 24:3 NKJV] “and I will make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell;
[Gen 24:4 NKJV] “but you shall go to my country and to my family, and take a wife for my son Isaac.”

Now at this point I would probably be saying okay Abey Baby…let’s just shake on it. Apparently, this was a custom reserved for serious oaths at the time. One commentator writing on the matter suggests:

“The person binding himself put his hand under the thigh of the person to whom he was to be bound; i.e., he put his hand on the partthat bore the mark of circumcision, the sign of God’s covenant…Our ideas of delicacy may revolt from the rite used on this occasion; but, when the nature of the covenant is considered, of which circumcision was the sign, we shall at once perceive that this rite could not be used without producing sentiments of reverence and godly fear, as the contracting party must know that the God of this covenant was a consuming fire.” (Clarke)

I am happy that a handshake is sufficient for any agreement between family nowadays. But notice too that Abraham makes his servant swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of the earth. This is a serious deal to Abraham. He did not want his son unequally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14). Now, the oldest servant here is believed to be a man by the name of Eleazer. He would have been the most trusted and probably the longest-tenured servant in Abraham’s household. He would have been the manager of Abraham’s affairs and assets. This would be a lofty position amongst all of the servants of Abraham’s household and therefore Eleazer would have been like family and one of few Abraham could trust with such an important task.

[Gen 24:5 NKJV] And the servant said to him, “Perhaps the woman will not be willing to follow me to this land. Must I take your son back to the land from which you came?”
[Gen 24:6 NKJV] But Abraham said to him, “Beware that you do not take my son back there.

Now…what we have here is Abraham commissioning his trusted servant Eleazer to go and find a bride for his son Isaac. But what I want you to notice here is that when Eleazer asks about what to do if the woman is unwilling to follow him, Abraham says “He [God] will send His angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son…”

An interesting point. I don’t think Abraham doubted for one moment that God would provide for him. At this point, I don’t think Abraham doubted anything about the Lord’s promise to multiply his descendants. The guy was up there in age, both he and his wife and God had given them a child in their old age. And guys, I want to say that if God has chosen you to be married, there is nothing in heaven or on earth that will keep you from it. Just have patience. It is very important that you wait on the Lord regarding this. You don’t want to go off looking for a husband or a wife in the places that God has delivered you from. Your former life has passed away; your life as a believer dictates that your old habits be done away with as well. Just as God sent an angel before Eliazer, He can do the same for you.

[Gen 24:7 NKJV] “The LORD God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my family, and who spoke to me and swore to me, saying, ‘To your descendants I give this land,’ He will send His angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there.
[Gen 24:8 NKJV] “And if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be released from this oath; only do not take my son back there.”
[Gen 24:9 NKJV] So the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and swore to him concerning this matter.

Again…what is so wrong with a handshake…I will have you know that this is the first mention ever of the “Thigh Master.” Notice too that he asked Eliezer to swear to take a bride for Isaac from his father’s house. Now you may recall from our previous study that Abraham’s brother had some children. It was still customary during this time to intermarry with near relatives, and so to keep the bloodline pure from pagan influence (which would have other more serious issues than intermarrying) Abraham will have Eliezar choose a wife from his own brothers’ tribe.

[Gen 24:10 NKJV] Then the servant took ten of his master’s camels and departed, for all his master’s goods [were in] his hand. And he arose and went to Mesopotamia, to the city of Nahor.
[Gen 24:11 NKJV] And he made his camels kneel down outside the city by a well of water at evening time, the time when women go out to draw [water].
[Gen 24:12 NKJV] Then he said, “O LORD God of my master Abraham, please give me success this day, and show kindness to my master Abraham.
[Gen 24:13 NKJV] “Behold, [here] I stand by the well of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water.
[Gen 24:14 NKJV] “Now let it be that the young woman to whom I say, ‘Please let down your pitcher that I may drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I will also give your camels a drink’–[let] her [be the one] You have appointed for Your servant Isaac. And by this I will know that You have shown kindness to my master.”
[Gen 24:15 NKJV] And it happened, before he had finished speaking, that behold, Rebekah, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, came out with her pitcher on her shoulder.

Now…I hope that you don’t get the idea from this passage that in order to find a bride or groom you need to go down to the local watering hole a.k.a. bar….we have already cleared that up, but what I do want you to notice is that Eleazer puts the choice for Isaacs bride into the hands of the Lord. But notice also, Eleazer does not pray for an attractive wife for Isaac (although I can imagine Isaac was back home praying that way).

Whether you are single and looking, or dating and hoping for marriage, it is imperative that you take the matter before the Lord. The best place to start is in prayer. As we mentioned in the last session, prayer is the key to any successful relationship. If you fail to pray you are already short-circuiting any potential of having a godly relationship. And while praying for your expectations of who your husband or wife will be is okay, it is far better to pray for the ideal mate that God has for you. God is always a better matchmaker than we can ever be.

[Gen 24:16 NKJV] Now the young woman [was] very beautiful to behold, a virgin; no man had known her. And she went down to the well, filled her pitcher, and came up.
[Gen 24:17 NKJV] And the servant ran to meet her and said, “Please let me drink a little water from your pitcher.”
[Gen 24:18 NKJV] So she said, “Drink, my lord.” Then she quickly let her pitcher down to her hand, and gave him a drink.
[Gen 24:19 NKJV] And when she had finished giving him a drink, she said, “I will draw [water] for your camels also, until they have finished drinking.”
[Gen 24:20 NKJV] Then she quickly emptied her pitcher into the trough, ran back to the well to draw [water], and drew for all his camels.
[Gen 24:21 NKJV] And the man, wondering at her, remained silent so as to know whether the LORD had made his journey prosperous or not.

Eleazer had just prayed for a compassionate woman. He had just made a long journey and being a stranger he likely would not have expected everyone to run to him and greet him. In fact, when the women went down to draw water in the evening they would all come at about the same time. Safety in numbers. And to have some crazy old man run up to you out in the desert would have sent most people running. But out of all of the women that would have been there only one met the criteria. Rebekah.

Now it was not good enough that Rebekah was kind and compassionate, any of the women could have had sympathy for Eleazer and offered him a drink. But Rebekah answered the prayer of Eleazer and offered to draw water for all 10 of his camels. Now that is a lot of work. I did some research on the subject and discovered that the average camel drinks 30-35 gallons of water in one sitting and more if they are thirsty!! Rebekah gave drink to not just one but 10 camels! That is 300-350 gallons of water! Not only was this woman a woman of character, but she was also kind and a hard worker. But more than that…she was an answer to prayer.

[Gen 24:22 NKJV] So it was, when the camels had finished drinking, that the man took a golden nose ring weighing half a shekel, and two bracelets for her wrists weighing ten [shekels] of gold,
[Gen 24:23 NKJV] and said, “Whose daughter [are] you? Tell me, please, is there room [in] your father’s house for us to lodge?”
[Gen 24:24 NKJV] So she said to him, “I [am] the daughter of Bethuel, Milcah’s son, whom she bore to Nahor.”
[Gen 24:25 NKJV] Moreover she said to him, “We have both straw and feed enough, and room to lodge.”
[Gen 24:26 NKJV] Then the man bowed down his head and worshiped the LORD.
[Gen 24:27 NKJV] And he said, “Blessed [be] the LORD God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken His mercy and His truth toward my master. As for me, being on the way, the LORD led me to the house of my master’s brethren.”
[Gen 24:28 NKJV] So the young woman ran and told her mother’s household these things.

Guys…I have to say this or I would be amiss. This is not a commandment but rather a suggestion. When you ‘go a-courtin’ make sure that you bring jewelry! Girls…can I get an amen!!!!

No…but seriously, when you get into a relationship you want to do your very best to have things in order so that you don’t bring a bunch of debt, or other baggage into your relationship. You want to be prepared for the day that you say, “I Do.” Now I am not saying this is a must. I barely had two nickels to rub together when I asked Erin to marry me, but it made the first year of our marriage very difficult and had I been better prepared there would have been fewer surprises and much less turmoil in the Covanes household.

But I think the best thing we can glean from this is that Eleazer found someone of Abrahams household. He found someone from the family. Now I am not talking about the Deep South family thing here, but rather from the family of God. This points again to the idea of making sure that you are equally yoked with a believer.

Now verses 29-48 are pretty much a recap as Eleazer meets the family and brother Laban and recounts the events that had up until then and how he had come to be with them.

[Gen 24:29 NKJV] Now Rebekah had a brother whose name [was] Laban, and Laban ran out to the man by the well.
[Gen 24:30 NKJV] So it came to pass, when he saw the nose ring, and the bracelets on his sister’s wrists, and when he heard the words of his sister Rebekah, saying, “Thus the man spoke to me,” that he went to the man. And there he stood by the camels at the well.
[Gen 24:31 NKJV] And he said, “Come in, O blessed of the LORD! Why do you stand outside? For I have prepared the house, and a place for the camels.”
[Gen 24:32 NKJV] Then the man came to the house. And he unloaded the camels, and provided straw and feed for the camels, and water to wash his feet and the feet of the men who [were] with him.
[Gen 24:33 NKJV] [Food] was set before him to eat, but he said, “I will not eat until I have told about my errand.” And he said, “Speak on.”
[Gen 24:34 NKJV] So he said, “I [am] Abraham’s servant.
[Gen 24:35 NKJV] “The LORD has blessed my master greatly, and he has become great; and He has given him flocks and herds, silver and gold, male and female servants, and camels and donkeys.
[Gen 24:36 NKJV] “And Sarah my master’s wife bore a son to my master when she was old; and to him he has given all that he has.
[Gen 24:37 NKJV] “Now my master made me swear, saying, ‘You shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I dwell;
[Gen 24:38 NKJV] ‘but you shall go to my father’s house and to my family, and take a wife for my son.’
[Gen 24:39 NKJV] “And I said to my master, ‘Perhaps the woman will not follow me.’
[Gen 24:40 NKJV] “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.
[Gen 24:41 NKJV] ‘You will be clear from this oath when you arrive among my family; for if they will not give [her] to you, then you will be released from my oath.’
[Gen 24:42 NKJV] “And this day I came to the well and said, ‘O LORD God of my master Abraham, if You will now prosper the way in which I go,
[Gen 24:43 NKJV] ‘behold, I stand by the well of water; and it shall come to pass that when the virgin comes out to draw [water], and I say to her, “Please give me a little water from your pitcher to drink,”
[Gen 24:44 NKJV] ‘and she says to me, “Drink, and I will draw for your camels also,”–[let] her [be] the woman whom the LORD has appointed for my master’s son.’
[Gen 24:45 NKJV] “But before I had finished speaking in my heart, there was Rebekah, coming out with her pitcher on her shoulder; and she went down to the well and drew [water]. And I said to her, ‘Please let me drink.’
[Gen 24:46 NKJV] “And she made haste and let her pitcher down from her [shoulder], and said, ‘Drink, and I will give your camels a drink also.’ So I drank, and she gave the camels a drink also.
[Gen 24:47 NKJV] “Then I asked her, and said, ‘Whose daughter [are] you?’ And she said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor’s son, whom Milcah bore to him.’ So I put the nose ring on her nose and the bracelets on her wrists.
[Gen 24:48 NKJV] “And I bowed my head and worshiped the LORD, and blessed the LORD God of my master Abraham, who had led me in the way of truth to take the daughter of my master’s brother for his son.
[Gen 24:49 NKJV] “Now if you will deal kindly and truly with my master, tell me. And if not, tell me, that I may turn to the right hand or to the left.”
[Gen 24:50 NKJV] Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, “The thing comes from the LORD; we cannot speak to you either bad or good.
[Gen 24:51 NKJV] “Here [is] Rebekah before you; take [her] and go, and let her be your master’s son’s wife, as the LORD has spoken.”
[Gen 24:52 NKJV] And it came to pass, when Abraham’s servant heard their words, that he worshiped the LORD, [bowing himself] to the earth.
[Gen 24:53 NKJV] Then the servant brought out jewelry of silver, jewelry of gold, and clothing, and gave [them] to Rebekah. He also gave precious things to her brother and to her mother.

More jewelry….starting to see a pattern here guys?!?!?!

[Gen 24:54 NKJV] And he and the men who [were] with him ate and drank and stayed all night. Then they arose in the morning, and he said, “Send me away to my master.”
[Gen 24:55 NKJV] But her brother and her mother said, “Let the young woman stay with us [a few] days, at least ten; after that she may go.”
[Gen 24:56 NKJV] And he said to them, “Do not hinder me, since the LORD has prospered my way; send me away so that I may go to my master.”
[Gen 24:57 NKJV] So they said, “We will call the young woman and ask her personally.”
[Gen 24:58 NKJV] Then they called Rebekah and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” And she said, “I will go.”
[Gen 24:59 NKJV] So they sent away Rebekah their sister and her nurse, and Abraham’s servant and his men.

Guys…what I want to say about this may be shocking to most of you, but here goes anyways. If you are willing to commit to marriage, and you are confident that the Lord is for it, there is no need for a long engagement. In your courtship, you will have seasons to get to know one another (unlike this unusual courtship), and so use this time to discover each others character, godly traits, and shortcomings. But when you decide that you are going to tie the knot, there is no reason to draw it out. All that will do is open the door for temptation.

Face it…if you are engaged it is so much easier to say, “we are engaged now and we are going to get married so I guess it will be okay if slept over at his or her house just this once….and BAM…your risking sin.”

I understand that there is time for preparation, and really guys, this should be in your department. Sure picking out the gown, the bridesmaid dresses and the napkins is probably more up her alley, guys you have a great deal to prepare for ahead of time. If you notice in your season of courtship that you want to take this relationship to the next level, start preparing on the financial end so that when you buy the engagement ring, the wedding bell ring will on the horizon. I have heard horror story after horror story of women and men who have been “Engaged” for 8 years, one person I knew was engaged for 15 years before they finally broke up! Seriously????

[Gen 24:60 NKJV] And they blessed Rebekah and said to her: “Our sister, [may] you [become The mother of] thousands of ten thousands; And may your descendants possess The gates of those who hate them.”
[Gen 24:61 NKJV] Then Rebekah and her maids arose, and they rode on the camels and followed the man. So the servant took Rebekah and departed.
[Gen 24:62 NKJV] Now Isaac came from the way of Beer Lahai Roi, for he dwelt in the South.
[Gen 24:63 NKJV] And Isaac went out to meditate in the field in the evening; and he lifted his eyes and looked, and there, the camels [were] coming.
[Gen 24:64 NKJV] Then Rebekah lifted her eyes, and when she saw Isaac she dismounted from her camel;
[Gen 24:65 NKJV] for she had said to the servant, “Who [is] this man walking in the field to meet us?” The servant said, “It [is] my master.” So she took a veil and covered herself.
[Gen 24:66 NKJV] And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done.
[Gen 24:67 NKJV] Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent; and he took Rebekah and she became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s [death].

WOW…I don’t think it gets any more romantic than that. But what I want you to see here is that as Isaac waited and went about his daily business…he meditated on God’s Word. It is so important that we continuously be in the business of reading the Word of God in every season of our lives. Especially during the season of courtship.

Girls, I want to point out the modesty of Rebekah here. Notice when she saw Isaac coming she dismounted from her camel and took her veil and covered herself. This is quite the opposite of what the world tells women to do. The world says, “Girlfriend pour yourself into your jeans, put on your bling, and unbutton the top button”…well…I don’t know if they really say that, but the point is you don’t have to go all out to seduce a husband, in fact, modesty will usually scare off the men that you don’t want anything to do with, to begin with. Now I am not saying wear sweatpants all the time and keep morning hair or morning breath for that matter, but be modest. A part of guarding hearts means that you do what you can to protect your brothers in Christ from falling into temptation which leads to sin.

And finally….I want you to notice that the consummation of the marriage here is not an excuse to have sex and say that you are “married in the eyes of God.” Really now…we have a church on every corner and we don’t marry that way anymore anyway. But in a Christian marriage, the sex life begins after the “I Do” and not before.

And so…not a traditional courtship, but one of the most beautiful stories in the Bible and I hope it has helped give you some godly wisdom as it pertains to your season of singleness, courtship, or engagement.

Now, turn with me if you will to I Corinthians chapter 13 and we are going to examine verses 4-7

I Corinthians 13: verses 4 through 7

You have probably heard this passage of Scripture on numerous occasions, if you have ever been to a wedding I am sure that you could probably recall hearing it there. But as it pertains to courtship and dating it is important to point out how living this Scripture out will help you to guard the heart of yourself and your brother or sister in Christ.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Now….in order for love to suffer long…time is involved. When you are in a courting or dating relationship…take your time. You need this time to develop a lasting foundation for your relationship. You need this time to go through a few trials together.

Love does not envy.

When you are in a courting or dating relationship you are not dating like the world dates. The other person is not your property and so there is no reason to envy the time that they spend away from you.

Love does not parade itself.

Girls we talked about modesty earlier, but what we need to be cognizant of is that we remain modest in more than just our appearance. This goes for the guys too. Don’t strut around like you are the best thing since sliced bread. Instead, live in humility giving preference to others above yourself.

Love is not puffed up.

Lose the ego. The best way to gain a bride or a groom is to defer your pride. And then when you have gained your partner for life you can go back to being proud again…just kidding…no…remain humble and submitted to your partner. Pride is a very destructive force in any relationship.

Love does not behave rudely.

Do I have to say anything here? If you are rude to your brother or sister in Christ you probably won’t have any prospect of marrying…or any friends to marry for that matter.

Love does not seek its own.

SO IMPORTANT…you are not in a courting or dating relationship to see what you can get out of it. You should be living to see what you can give to it. Remember courtship and dating is not a hoop you have to jump through so that you can say you did it “Gods way.” Courtship or dating is a season to determine if you are the right person for the one you feel God has chosen for you…not if they are the right person for you. Again…it goes back to being a godly mate not looking for a godly mate.

Love is not provoked.

You don’t need to be intimidated by others. In fact, at this point in your relationship, you don’t own your courtship or dating partner. You should be seeking the best interest of them and not yourself. You should be involving others in your relationship and not hurried to get married because of parents wanting to be grandparents or the old biological clock ticking. Wait. Be patient, do not be provoked. Another thing that I would like to point out here is that provocation regardless of motivation is not love. Sometimes we provoke others to make a point, sometimes it is because we feel that an injustice has befallen us. But if we are focusing on others instead of ourselves it becomes nearly impossible for us to become provoked.

Love thinks no evil.

And we covered a lot of this last week (a reference to a previous session we did). As believers, we must keep our thought life in check. It is easy to slip off into fantasy land when you are in a courtship or dating relationship and start imagining things that are inappropriate for the season you are in.

Love does not rejoice in iniquity.

Guys and gals both. Do not let sin get the best of your relationship. Remove it far from you. Even a little sin can have dire consequence. It is like saying you only want a little cyanide in your coffee as opposed to a lot. A little can kill you! Just as a little sin can destroy a relationship. And if you are successful in avoiding the “DO NOT’s” in this verse, when you finally tie “THE KNOT” you get to enjoy the rest of the verse with complete satisfaction which says…. but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

The point of this passage is that we need to be aware that the Scripture is our guide for guarding the heart of your brother or sister in Christ. It is not there to keep you from having fun….okay…it is if your idea of fun is being selfish, uncaring, hurtful, and impatient. The WORD of God is ours for our protection and the protection of those that we claim to love.

SO how do we use the Word of God to protect our hearts and Love God’s Way?

I would say it begins with loving God. And what does God have to say about all of this?

Mark 12:30-31 says:

And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. “And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

If you don’t follow the first commandment you are incapable of following the second. You must love the LORD your God with all of your heart. This enables you to love your neighbor as yourself.

Romans 13:8-9

Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

In a courting, relationship love is equated with guarding the heart of your brother or sister in Christ. The “You shall Not’s” are all summed up by loving your neighbor. This implies that if you do these things that you do not love them.

1 John 3:23

And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.The first thing we need to do is believe on the Name of Jesus and be equally yoked, but when we have met that criteria, we are to love one another. This isn’t a suggestion but rather a commandment. We see this spelled out in

John 13:34-35

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

And this is a great way to discern whether or not the person you are courting or dating is equally yoked with you. If they love with that I Corinthians 13 kind of love then you know that they are disciples of Jesus. Apart from Christ, we cannot love that way. This is a true litmus test of a believer. You shall know them by their fruits. And speaking of fruit.

John 15:16-17

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.”These things I command you, that you love one another.

And again..the command to love one another.

But what does this love look like? It is not the romantic love that is shared in the confines of a godly marriage. It is brotherly love.

Romans 12:9-10

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;

This is a great passage. It reminds us that we are not to have any intimacy in a relationship before marriage that you would not have with your brother or sister. It also shows us that we are to give preference to one another. This means sacrificing self for the good of the other. Guarding their heart! And as for sacrificing, get a load of this

Ephesians 5:2 tells us

And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

The old WWJD is in full effect here. We should love our brother and sister in Christ just as Christ loved us. We should be willing to sacrifice all for the betterment of our dearly beloved.

1 Thessalonians 4:9

But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;

That’s right we are taught by God to love one another. I wish that I could say that I am teaching you something new, but you know this already because a better teacher than I will ever be has given it you in His word that you would know how to love one another.

The Pure Heart, The Tender Heart, The Sacrificial Heart (hint: if you mouse over these verses the verse will “magically” appear)

1 Peter 1:22

1 Peter 3:8-9

1 John 3:16-18

I John 4:7-12

So…let’s begin to wrap up tonight by talking about the Pure Heart, the Tender Heart, and the Sacrificial Heart. Each attitude of the heart will help to not only protect your heart but the heart of your brother or sister in Christ or in any relationship for that matter.

First let’s examine the Pure Heart

1 Peter 1:22

Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart,

We have to understand that the purification of our souls comes from a right relationship with Jesus Christ. The purification begins at Salvation and grows in the process of sanctification. On the other hand, Putrification occurs only when we fail to have a pure heart. So, we must love one another fervently as the Bible teaches, with godly passion, and with a pure heart. We understand from our last session that purity begins with prayer, the study of God’s Word and the prohibition of sinful living.

So…we have examined the pure heart, let’s take a look at the tender heart.

Did you know that by being tenderhearted you become an heir in the inheritance of many blessings?

1 Peter 3:8-9

Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.

And what a blessing we inherit when we are of one mind in Christ. When we are equally yoked God begins to use us in mighty ways to bless one another, others, and God Himself by living righteously before Him. We are truly blessed when we have compassion. It was compassion that leads Rebekah from our story earlier to ultimately become a part of the promise of God to Abraham through Isaac.

We are very blessed indeed when we are tenderhearted. It means that we are compassionate- the word in the original language literally translates “having strong bowels” and what a blessing it is that we can have relationships that don’t make us vomit.

But seriously, when we are tenderhearted or have compassion we are not easily moved by the unnerving things we discover about others along the way. We are blessed when we are courteous to one other. It is our duty to show godly courtesy to fellow believers. And, of course, we are blessed when the favor is returned. And we certainly blessed when do what is right and love another who may treat us poorly.

And so blessings come from the Lord to the tenderhearted and this tenderhearted attitude is what shows your character to your brother or sister in Christ in your season of courtship.

Finally, let’s discuss the Sacrificial heart. And what a better example for us than Jesus Himself.

1 John 3:16-18

By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.

It is not good enough to simply say, “I Love You.” Love is a verb, not an adjective. We can show our love by our willingness to lay down our lives for our brother or sister in Jesus. Now, this doesn’t mean take a bullet for them. Although nothing says I love you like pulling a slug out of your body. But what this is saying is that we are willing to sacrifice for them. To meet their spiritual needs, physical needs, and emotional needs in a proper context shows that you love the way that God intends for you to love.

But beyond being a verb, love is also a proper noun. Love is Jesus Christ. And love is from Jesus Christ.

1 John 4:7-12

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 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. 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. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 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.

And so…as we have seen tonight, the best way to guard your heart and the hearts of others is to have an understanding of what it means to love the way God loves. To understand the definition of love, the source of love and the product of love.

Let me close with the words of C.S. Lewis who said,

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless–it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”

Prayer: LORD, thank You for the reminder of where You have led me. I am so grateful for having the bride that You have given me. Even when times are tough and I am at my whits-end with her (and here with me), I know that You have uniquely matched us together for a far better work than what we could have done apart from one another. LORD bless our time together as we go to a marriage conference tonight even. How timely is Your WORD. LORD, I want to continue praying for my pastor and ask that Your hand would be upon his family and that there would be a divine solution that You have already worked out. To You be all the glory. It is in Jesus’ name I pray. –Amen

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