Both singleness and marriage are gifts from God. They are each gifts that a loving Father wisely gives to his children for specific purposes. Greater than being single or being married is being a child of God who participates in the mission of God. Both singleness and marriage have strategic roles in helping God’s children participate in God’s mission.
Singleness is a unique opportunity to be undivided in your devotion to God.
Single people are spared the “troubles” of marriage. While there are many great blessings in marriage, there are difficulties too. Marriage contains two opinions about everything. Two opinions about time, where to live, how to spend the holidays, and even what to eat from day to day. Add to this the blessing-complexity of children and more pressure and anxiety is added to the grind of everyday life. In 1 Corinthians 7:28, Paul goes as far as saying that marriage brings “many troubles in this life,” and Paul says, “I want to spare you” (verse 28).
Contrasted with marriage, singleness has many advantages. Singleness allows us to be undivided in our devotion to God and undivided in our ministry among God’s people (1 Corinthians 7:25).
I’ll illustrate this reality with a few examples from my own life. I used to serve God as an undivided person. In college, I worked on staff with a student ministry, served around our church in a variety of ways, and was free to study God’s Word and build my faith however I desired. I had the unique season of freedom to read, listen to sermons through podcasts, attend conferences and grow in my love of God. Now, I serve God as a divided person. Things slow down around 8:15 in the evenings. About every week Elizabeth and I squeeze in an evening marriage counseling in our home but we have to work around the demands of parenting to do so. In many ways, we don’t get to do full-time ministry anymore – it’s divided time ministry.
We serve divided between the needs of God’s people as a whole, and the needs of one another as husband and wife, and parents. Simply, we have other responsibilities, that while they are a God-given grace, they divide our time.
But Really, “Burden” Or “Blessing”
I work with a lot of college students who struggle under the “burden” of singleness when they actually have been given a gift that they don’t know how to use. Singleness can become misconstrued as a burden when it is actually a blessing. We miss the gift when we listen to those wretched whispers from the deceiver… “Your best life may never come” … “Your happiness can only be found in marriage” … “Your fullness of joy will only come in a wedding.” Psalm 16:11 counters all of these lies with the truth that in the presence of God there’s fullness of God and at his right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Here are four keys to flourishing in seasons of singleness. They are given to God’s church as a whole to encourage one another regardless of the season of life you are in.
EMBRACE SEASONS OF SINGLENESS AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO GROW IN YOUR LOVE OF GOD.
We must have the right attitude. Both singleness and marriage are gifts that God gives to his children. Neither is a burden or a blessing to be carried – they are blessings to embrace. As we spend our single seasons in service of God we will realize that we are also steadily becoming the kind of person that is desirable for marriage.
FOCUS ON THE ADVANTAGES, NOT THE DIFFICULTIES, OF THE SEASON.
Singleness can be seen as a chain to be broken or a gift to be shared. There are obvious difficulties and frustrations related to single seasons, there are many opportunities too. I’ve marveled at how college students and young adults have mastered their time in order to be a blessing to others. I’ve known multiple young men who approached me saying “I make a lot more money than I really need” and offer to pay for mission trips for college students and other church members. Singleness is loaded with strategic advantages for advancing the mission of God – will we be a people who leverage them or not?
ENCOURAGE BROTHERS AND SISTERS TO SEEK GOD IN SEASONS OF SINGLENESS.
Single women: Don’t sit around and wait for a guy. Let’s get busy seeking after God. Let’s leverage seasons of singleness by making disciples of younger girls and women. You have a church family in real need of the gifts and ministry that you are poised to provide.
Single men: Pursue godly women in friendships with the hope of moving to marriage. Proverbs 18:22 is true: He who finds a wife, finds what is good. And remember, your value is not found in the fact that you have a girlfriend or a wife but in the fact that you are a child of God.
LET YOUR SINGLE SEASON BE A SIN-KILLING SEASON.
At the end of the day: the gym won’t make you fit, launching a blog won’t make you write, and marriage won’t make you whole. It’s foolish to look to marriage as that time when you’ll finally get right with God, finally put the video games away, and finally get busy serving God’s people. You can’t help but take you with you wherever you go. Let’s utilize the single seasons to be sin-killing seasons. Let’s not be deceived by the presence of those special sins that belong to single seasons. Let your single season be a sin-killing season.
In Conclusion: Remember Jesus Christ who lived a life of singleness.
History is full of people who changed the world through seasons – and even lives – of singleness. Jesus embraced singleness as God’s best for his life. Jesus served God and others with undivided devotion. Jesus never knew the thrill of marriage, sex, and children, because His Kingdom is one of spiritual children and brothers and sisters. Knowing Jesus and being a part of his people transcends marriage, and, singleness.
Seasons of singleness are loaded with opportunities. If you are single, embrace this season as an opportunity to fall deeper in love with God. Jesus Christ is the ultimate spiritual lover of men and women alike. Get to know him through his Word. Get to know your community of faith. Live well.