Nearly two years have gone by since that most wonderful day, the day when the longing, the loneliness, the heartaches, the desire to be married, were all over. Then life began. United in love we walked into a new life to enjoy its beauties, leaving all the troubles of single life behind, never to return. Never again would we have to feel left out on Valentine’s Day. Now we had each other.
There were the rumbles of thunder to warn us that married life was not all sunshine and roses: the statistics of a 50 percent divorce rate, the fighting and bickering of those who do stick together, and even the unhappy faces of married couples in the pew next to us in church. Some made half-hearted comments about being tied down with a ball and chain, losing the freedom of single life, etc.
So what is the truth? Is a happy marriage all a delusion? Is a “honeymoon period” the only thing to look forward to? Is there, perhaps, one out of a million marriages that is truly happy; and is it worth the gamble just to get out of single life?
I must confess that I do have one regret being married. I found one dead petal among the roses. There is a little cloud in the otherwise sunny sky. It was not, however, anything that the poker-faced marriage prophets warned us about. It was not the loss of a carefree life. It was not the loss of freedom. It was not any disappointments with the joys of married life. No, the only regret I have is the time and energy I wasted fretting about single life. I wish now that I had used the good gift of single life more carefully.
The time you have as a single man or woman in the church is precious time. Once you get married, some good things are lost for good. Single life is not just an empty time to wait and fill with the pleasures and/or riches of earthly life. It is precious and useful time. It is a time that can be spent either for the building up or for the crumbling of the church. Ironically for myself, and for others I know, it was not until I began to realize the value and usefulness of single life that suddenly God brought a marriage partner into my life and graciously gave us a happy and peaceful marriage. Then it was too late to use that precious single time. The time was gone.
One of the valuable things that you have as a single person is time itself. Perhaps you laugh and say, “are you kidding? I am so busy I hardly have time to read this article.” But think about it. Married people are called by God to spend time with one another as well as with the children God may give to them. Time spent with one another is necessary for a strong and happy marriage. Unity in Christ is at the foundation, but the foundation is worthless if no relationship is built upon it. A godly marriage will not survive if the husband spends all his time at his job or pursuing his own interests after work. He needs to spend time at home with his wife and family. The single person does not use his time for these things. This is time that you have at your disposal. You have a serious responsibility to use this time wisely.
The time that partners in a godly marriage spend on the marriage can be spent in many different ways by the single person. First of all, there are many foolish ways to spend that time. You waste your time if you spend it fooling around, hanging out with trouble makers, going to movies, or watching television. Time spent in this manner will hinder your relationships within the body of Christ and produce ignorance of the truth and vain strife. Wasted time is not innocent fooling around during a time in life that does not matter for the future. It is a precious time that always has consequences for the future. Drinking, listening to rock music, fornication, and pornography will also bring misery in single life as well as married life. These things make you rotten wood in the structure of the church. If you get married, these things will make your family as well as future generations weak if not spiritually dead and cut off from the church.
God calls you to use the time of your single life wisely. This is a time in which you must practice and prepare for life as a member of the body of Christ. Don’t fool yourself thinking that you can visit the lonely, help out with meals, or be an elder or deacon later on in life. By then it will be too late. Your patterns of life will have been set and will be very difficult to change. The godly examples of life in the body of Christ such as Abel, Moses, Ruth, David, Samuel, Daniel, Timothy, and others teach us that such life begins early—in your teen years.
Do you have a good job? Have you been offered a position that offers more money but would require more of your time? Consider first how you could best serve God. Does your mind fill with visions of a more luxurious lifestyle, or financial needs in the church? Perhaps your overtime would interfere with volunteer work in the church, society, or other meetings. If it does, be content with less income so that you can be more active in the church.
You go off to college. You may know what you want to study, or you may be unsure. Do you have the body of Christ in mind? When you do, you certainly will not go just to get out from under your parents and have a wild fling. You will not pursue a line of study that will take you away from the church. Take seriously the need for godly teachers and faithful ministers. In all your studies, be diligent to grow in your knowledge and talents.
You like to socialize with friends. The church of Christ suffers terribly with the gossip of those who use their tongues to exalt themselves. Set a good example, stamp out gossip in your conversations as a young person. Practice listening and building others up in their faith. The whole church grows and is strengthened by your godly conversation. If you want to talk profitably, you also need knowledge of God’s word and a godly heart. Your tongue is a powerful member, guard it with prayer and understanding. Practice that now, or you will begin traveling a road of grief and misery for the church. The older members who gossip in the church began in their youth and said “I will get serious when I get older.”
Your time of being single is put into good use when it is given to instruction in music and singing. Traveling around the world to visit other saints can increase your zeal for mission work and give you valuable insight in consistory, classis, or synod meetings. Learn how to cook with a view to helping the sick or afflicted in their times of need. Pursue an interest in writing for the sake of Christian literature for children, teens, or adults. Volunteer your abilities for treasurer, secretary, or president of society. Devote time to send cards for the sick or special occasions of those in the church. Make yourself available to babysit for a needy family in the church for free. Join the Beacon Lights staff or try your hand at some writing for other young people. Don’t wait for someone to ask for your help, offer your help and don’t give up when you get little or no response.
Perhaps you want more than anything else to have a godly home of your own. Don’t begin by looking for a girl or guy that you are attracted to and then doing all you can to win their attention. You are not on the right track if you have to work so hard at dating that you can’t even be yourself. Besides, you may bring yourself into the temptation of fornication which will only bring misery into a marriage. By all means, don’t look for a date at a bar, theater, carnival, beach, or a worldly workplace. Look first at your calling as a single member of the church. Learn how to give of your time for others because this is very important in a sound marriage. Remember that a good marriage is such that you can never prepare enough to enjoy fully the marriage bond. Once married, you will always wish you had more love to give. You will never regret diligent careful preparation before marriage.
These are some of the things that are more easily done by the single members of the church. Many of these things can be done only with that time which God gives to you in single life. Doing these things will bring you into the service of the body of Christ and prepare you for your place in the church. That discipline of giving your time and life for the church will also serve you very well in a happy marriage if the Lord is pleased to bring you a partner. By the grace of God you will not have to see that little cloud in the sky or brown rose petal in your marriage.
When your time as a single member of the church is used as God would have you use it, then He will give you the strength to be single and content, or He will give you a marriage partner with whom you will find an abundance of joy and peace in marriage. When the single life is squandered, filled with pleasures and abuses, and despised, then God may give you an empty life of discontent, or He may give you the partner you think you needed, along with much misery.
The church along with the pastors, elders, and deacons needs to express appreciation to those young people who do use their time wisely. May the whole church as a body encourage the single members in that calling which is essential for the future of the church. ❖