Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned him, and to which God has called him. 1 Cor 7:17a
A couple of weeks ago, as part of our current sermon series, I spoke on being Single and Christian. Over the last couple of years, God’s been stirring my heart for the single people in our churches. There can be a pretty big stigma in terms of singleness among the Christian community. Culturally we’re taught to pursue and glorify singleness, worshiping the idol of individual independence. Likewise though, Christian culture can tend to view marriage as most glorious and end up making it an idol.
The bible teaches us that it’s God who’s most glorious and that making most of him is the goal of all our life. Both marriage and singleness are uniquely designed by God to help us do just that. Sin distorts anything; thankfully the gospel redeems everything. In Christ, singleness finds a home. It’s made beautiful and beneficial in light of Him; uniquely displaying our love for and trust in our all-sufficient and sovereign Lord.
If you’d like more on the Gift and Calling of Singleness that Paul outlines in 1 Cor 7, you can listen to the podcast. For this post though I wanted to touch on some of the practical things I’ve mentioned in regards to singleness over the last couple weeks. I compiled a list of eight principles for living a life of Singleness to God’s glory and for your good. It’s by no means comprehensive, nor do I have a verse for every one. They come from biblical principles, human experience and pastoral observations. My hope is they’ll be seen as simple, practical and helpful.
SINGLENESS AND YOU
Jesus First – Prioritize your relationship with Jesus above every other relationship. Cultivate your heart for him, find your identity in him and keep your focus on he and his kingdom first. The quality of all our relationships are rooted in our relationship with Christ.
Be Content – Scripture teaches, songs remind and life confirms we’re prone to wonder. We all want bigger, better and faster and chasing the world easily temps us to leave the Lord. Where you are and what you have are all a perfectly, purposefully timed gift from God. Practice gratitude.
Be Holy – Image scripture not the world. Walk in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yes, potentially you’re saving yourself for someone to come, but primarily you are sanctifying yourself for the One who’s already arrived; the One who sanctified himself for us through his life and death to make us his. Commit your body and mind to him while single and don’t act married until you are.
Be Humble – I’ll let the life-long single theologian John Stott speak to this:
Apart from sexual temptation, the greatest danger which I think we face as singles is self-centeredness. We may live alone and have total freedom to plan our own schedule with nobody else to modify it or even give us advice. If we are not careful, we may find the whole world revolving around ourselves.
Be Intentional – The time is very short, make the best use of it. Single or married our mission is gospel proclamation and kingdom extension. There are no greater gifts outside the gospel itself like youthful zeal and the freedom of singleness when it comes to undivided devotion to Christ and his commission. Maximize it without regret.
SINGLE AND SEARCHING
Start with a Friendship, Not Romance – I learned this from Tim Keller and from looking back over the years spent with my best friend and spouse. What you need in this life, and want going into eternity, is a good friend, because that’s what lasts. Find and be a friend first. Walk with them as friends toward Jesus, helping the other become the person God designed them to be in him. You usually figure the physical stuff out just fine.
Clarify Your Beliefs Together in the Beginning – We over look a lot of things about people when we’re attracted to them. Let me just say, don’t let hotness supersede holiness. I’ve yet to sit with a couple after recently getting married who were having problems with each others physical appearance, but I have wept with many who realized they assumed someone’s salvation. What do you both believe? Who do you believe in? What does that mean? Where do you go to church? What are you learning from Christ? What is the gospel and how does it apply to life? These aren’t secondary matters. They are of marriage shaping, life changing and joy thriving importance.
Make Courtship Communal – Whatever you label your pursuit of a spouse; courtship or dating, let me ask you: Does your church family know the person you’re after? Why not? Do they have authority to speak into your relationship? They should. Lots of mistakes could be avoided if we simply invited and involved others in our courtship/dating. Do more together with others than on your own. There is no better help for you (and them) when it comes to keeping the first five points. Don’t limit your community to people just like you. Singles be around married, marrieds included singles. Ask questions, seek wisdom, invite accountability and have fun together. That’s what being the church is all about and this is a time when it’s biblically beneficial for both.
My prayer for your today is that in whatever season of singleness or solitude you currently find yourself in, contentment in and enjoyment of Christ will rule your hearts.