The Third Wheel We All Need

boyfriend, and now as a husband. And I wish I would have listened to them more in dating.

Joyful, Courageous Accountability

My golden rule in dating is a warm, but unpopular invitation to accountability — to truly and consistently bear each other’s burdens in the pursuit of marriage (Galatians 6:2). Maybe that term — accountability — has dried out and gone stale in your life. But to be accountable is to be authentically, deeply, consistently known by someone who cares enough to keep us from making mistakes or indulging in sin.

Only people who love Christ more than they love you will have the courage to tell you that you’re wrong in dating — wrong about a person, wrong about timing, wrong about whatever. Only they will be willing to say something hard, even when you’re so happily infatuated. Most people will float along with you because they’re excited for you, but you need a lot more than excitement right now — you have plenty of that yourself. You desperately need truth, wisdom, correction, and perspective.

The Bible warns us to weave all our desires, needs, and decisions deep into a fabric of family who love us and will help us follow Jesus — a family God builds for each of us in a local church (Hebrews 10:24–25).

God has sent you — your faith, your gifts, and your experience — into other believers’ lives for their good. To encourage them: “We urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all” (1 Thessalonians 5:14). To challenge and correct them: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom” (Colossians 3:16). And to build them up: “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

And as inconvenient, unnecessary, unhelpful, and even unpleasant as it may feel at times, God has sent gifted, experienced, Christ-loving men and women into your life too, for your good — and for the good of your boyfriend or girlfriend (and God willing, your future spouse). The God who sends these kinds of friends and family into our lives knows what we need far better than we ever will.

We all need courageous, persistent, and hopeful friends and counselors in the dangerous and murky waters of dating. Lean hard on the people who know you best, love you most, and will tell you when you’re wrong.

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