Leveraging Singleness for God’s Glory

Singleness. Ah, that wonderful stage in your life when everyone assumes it is their personal responsibility to help you find a significant other. Those in the over-21-and-unmarried category have heard the matchmaking jokes and jabs (you know which ones I mean) countless times. In our Anabaptist culture there appears to be an underlying belief that purpose and fulfillment are found in marriage. Anything else can be perceived as “less than.” One can quickly arrive at the conclusion that if only they were married they would be happier and more effective in God’s kingdom. While marriage is indeed a very good thing, this ideology needs to be challenged.

Singleness Is a Journey

The journey of singleness affects each person differently. Some enjoy the freedoms availed to them by not being tied down to the responsibilities a relationship brings. They are content with waiting a few more years until their singleness is invaded. Others find this state of life difficult and lonely. They wrestle with the longings of unanswered prayers and the ache of empty arms.

Wherever you find yourself on the spectrum, know that you do not journey alone. Jesus, who was Himself single, has promised to be with us. He offers fulfillment and satisfaction that no person will ever be able to give (Psalm 107:9). Christ invites us to fully trust that He is working, even through the painful things in our lives, to bring Himself maximum glory.

Singleness Is Advantageous

The apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 7:8, “To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am.”1 Later in the chapter he expounds on the topic, highlighting the advantages that the single believer has been given. They have the freedom to live a life solely focused on pleasing the Lord-a life of undivided interests. Rather than worrying about pleasing their spouse they can be more concerned about holiness in body and spirit. Paul viewed his singleness as advantageous for being more effective in the work of the gospel and wished that all could be like himself in this manner.

David Platt suggests that singleness and marriage are both a gift. Whichever place one finds themselves, that is the gift that God has chosen to give them.2 Singleness is not an affliction that one needs to wait out until God gives them the best–marriage. It is not a period of life that should be filled with the busyness of worldly pleasures to distract oneself from the fact that they are not married. It is an opportunity to live wholly dedicated to God’s mission.

Instead of moping around waiting for “the perfect one” singles should be maximizing the potential of the gift God has currently allocated to them. They have time, freedom, and flexibility that if leveraged correctly can be used for the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom for generations to come. What a shame it would be to rob God of the glory He should receive through our lives by being more concerned about getting married.

Singleness Is an Opportunity

Once you are married, you will never have the same opportunities that you had when you were single. There are many avenues for bringing God glory during this time in life.

Seek Christ Above All Else. For every believer the most important calling is to become more like Christ (Col. 3:1-2). At the end of our lives our relationship with Jesus will be the only thing that matters. Time spent communing with Christ is an eternal investment.

Learn Contentment. Marriage will not satisfy us or make us less thoughtful of our own selves. Whether God chooses to bless you with marriage or chooses for you to remain single; learning now to be content will save you much heartache later in life.

Pour Into the Lives of Others. Singles have a unique chance to invest large quantities of time in people outside of their immediate family. Become involved in the lives of adolescents, or volunteer to spend time visiting with the elderly. Don’t be selfish in your relationships. Instead, build friendships outside of your comfort zone that could eternally impact that person’s life.

Cultivate Godliness. Instead of obsessing over finding a Godly companion; focus on becoming more Godly (1 Peter 2:11). It is easy for singles to live a self-seeking life with hidden sins both in thought and deed. Find someone to be accountable to, and practice self-discipline.3

Spend Time in Scripture and Prayer. Married people in my life have often told me to savor the amount of free time I have now. That used to irk me until I realized that my busyness was a result of things I chose to do. Choose to use your time in a God-honoring manner, and develop good habits now in your spiritual walk that will set a precedent for the rest of your life.

Leave Your Comfort Zone. There is more to be experienced in life than hanging out with your same group of friends every weekend. Traveling and experiencing other cultures is much easier when you are not married. Intentionally open your eyes to the ways that God is working globally, and then become involved in sharing the Gospel with all nations (Matt. 28:19-20).

Take Your Desires to Jesus. The desire God has given for marriage is natural and good. Don’t squelch that desire, but rather allow Christ to minister to these areas in your life. He may not fill that actual physical longing, but in Him we find something much better than any person can offer. Amy Carmichael, who never married and lived a radical life committed to sharing the Gospel in India said, “It is a safe thing to trust Him to fulfill the desires which He creates.”4

Singleness Is Temporary

Scripture says that our lives are like a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes (James 4:14). Marital status is not permanent; in fact, in Heaven we will no longer marry (Mark 12:25). Even if we are never married in this life, we live with hope. Christ will some glorious day return to claim His bride, the church. When He returns, the hardships of this present life will pale in comparison to the joy of being in His presence!

As Christians our focus needs to be on the most important wedding, the marriage of the Lamb (Rev. 19:7-9). Singles, let us live purposefully with eternity in mind not expending our time waiting and wishing for marriage.

Rachelle Rachelle Zook, better known as Shelly, is daily learning more of the Father’s heart while living her dream of doing ministry in a red-light district. She desires to see lives radically transformed through the Gospel, and is passionate about seeing young women embrace godly femininity. In her free time she enjoys: interacting with people, studying theology, riding motorcycle, savoring a good cup of coffee, traveling to new destinations, and delving into the pages of a well-written memoir.

Works Referenced:

1. 1 Corinthians 7:8 (English Standard Version)
2. Platt, David. “Singleness and the Next Generation.” Radical, 12 June. 2011. Web. 28 September. 2016.
3. Roberts, Vaughan. “Vaughan Roberts On Singleness.” Living Out, n.d. Web. 12 October. 2016.
4. Carmichael, Amy. “Quote by Amy Carmichael.” goodreads, n.d. Web. 14 October. 2016.
All Scripture references derived from the ESV.

11 thoughts on “Leveraging Singleness for God’s Glory

  1. I appreciated your thoughts about recognizing that our busyness is a result of our choices and that desires shouldn’t be squelched but rather taken to Jesus. I really like Amy Carimichal’s quote!

    I did react to words and phrases like “stage”, “period of life” “during this time of life” and “Once you are married” –which assume singleness in this life is always temporary for everyone (although I realize you also gave examples of people who never married). Do you think singles should assume they’ll probably get married?

    Thanks for writing on an important topic.

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    1. Tabitha,

      Thank you for your feedback and question.

      In regards to your question. No. I do not believe that singles should assume they will get married. Although a majority probably will marry. In my mind the terms “stage”, “period of life”, etc. refer to however long you are single. Whether that is for another year, or until you die. As far as the “One you are married”, I was intending to making a general, un-specific statement. Meaning that if you are ever married you will not have those same opportunities, not intending to state that singleness on this earth has a definite end. I hope this clarifies things for you.

      May you be encouraged and blessed on the journey.

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  2. Well-written, Biblical, excellent! Trusting God to fulfill the desires He creates is a great approach! It works for more than marriage; career, the next meal, etc. Your thoughts are on track, even you marry!

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  3. Hey Shelly! Good to read a piece by you again. You are so right. Singleness, marriage, every state or season of life is a gift. Contentment is the thank you note we write to God.

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  4. As a 35 year old single doing ministry overseas I appreciate and identify with everything that you wrote. But let me challenge a common assumption. It seams that we tend to think that the great commission should be done while one is single or by single people. It seems that in the New Testament example sharing the good news was a core part of church life for the church as a body and for each person individually. It is true I that single people have less obligations on their time and money but should we really relegate the great commission to those with spare time and money? Once again I appreciate what you wrote.

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    1. Jeremy, I wholeheartedly concur. Thanks for being willing to challenge that assumption. It was a thought that crossed my mind many times while writing this. I didn’t address it though seeing as how it was not the focus of this article, and we (the radi-call staff) try to keep our posts under a certain word limit. I am hoping that radi-call will see fit at some point in the future to write an article on this topic (using marriage to the glory of God/to be effective Kingdom workers). I am saddened by many in our churches that see singleness as the time to do missions, when I believe that is a calling for every believe regardless of the stage of life.

      One question. Since when do singles in ministry have spare money? 🙂

      Thank you for your kind feedback, and thoughtful challenge.

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  5. One unfortunate effect of this article, assuming that the author and those that read it desire marriage, is that instead of actually answering the question “how does one marry, and marry someone compatible” it rather is a sort of rehashed super-spiritual mumbo-jumbo drug that soothes rather than solves a very real and legitimate human condition . This is not an attack on the author as but I speak as one who also carried about beliefs concerning the subject which were not entirely biblically founded. That is not to say however, that all in the article was wrong, for example to seek Christ above all is certainly a good thing but should rarely be a prerequisite for marriage as it(marriage) is more a practical matter than spiritual.
    It is very interesting to me that Paul seems to place the burden of marriage on women ” I would therefore that the young women marry”, which is in stark contrast to the over romanticized narrative that has infected the collective female consciousness. Reduced to its simplest elements this lie is that the woman is the prize, contrariwise , understanding marriage through Christ and the church, it is actually man who is the prize (“Christ is thy strength and Christ the prize”). Most girls assume that they are not physically attractive enough to guys, not realizing that a meek and quiet spirit becomes very alluring to a man ( especially after having been enticed, manipulated and summarily rejected by a entitled princess) ( you can thank her later).
    It seems there are two common mistakes that girls make, those that have won the genetic lottery and having basked in male validation from a very young age reject a suitable mate because they ” can do better” or know they will have to settle for just one guys attention. The other error by those who are not fashionably pretty, by whatever whim that is determined I know not, is neglection of qualities that will quietly come to a guys notice. Having said that, there are certainly girls who possess such qualities and still have not been married, my heart bleeds for you for i suppose the ache is quite like the pangs of unrequited love.
    The solution to this marital impasse lies not entirely in the hands of the female as there is blame to be laid at the feet of Adam, but like our first parents when she is deceived and led astray he is sure to follow.

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    1. I believe your comment is addressing an almost entirely different topic than what the article is talking about. As the title states, this article is about making the most of singleness. Sure, there is need for articles talking about how to marry well, but that’s not what this article is focused on. There’s not enough room to address all the different aspects of marriage in one article, so this article is focused on the gift of singlehood.

      The spirit and intention behind this article is to address the idea that singleness is a problem and that the problem needs to be solved before someone can be used to build the Kingdom of God. It points out that singles actually have some opportunities that married individuals do not have.

      I’m not quite sure what verses you’re talking about, but I’d be happy to look up some references. I’m a little uncomfortable with anyone thinking about either a husband or wife as a “prize to be won.” Viewing a significant other as a “prize” means that spouse is viewed almost as property belonging to them, and seems to minimize the fact that they are an individual child of God –someone who is there to pursue God with you, build His kingdom together, and help each other grow closer to God.

      I would say there are definitely times where men are responsible for this “impasse.” Here’s an interesting article that addresses how some of these problems can occur: http://www.boundless.org/relationships/2012/brother-youre-like-a-six

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