Monday, April 30, 2012

Don't Waste Your Singleness

To do: write -  I've been listing that on my daily schedule for weeks. But lately, I've found that most of my emotional and physical energy have been spent on living and there's just not much left for writing. And when I do need to write, it's in my journal, for the Lord's eyes alone. This can lead me to feel a certain amount of guilt because I really feel like God has called me to write. However, I'm aware that there are some opportunities in front of me that will only be here for a moment, so I must choose wisely.

"Be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil." - Ephesians 5:15-16

When I think about making the most of my time, I think about my life and see:
I work with people. I live with people. I am related to a lot of people. 
People take time. People need time. People deserve time. 
I've come to realize that regardless of how I feel, people are my calling...and they are yours too, if you are a Christ follower. Making the most of my time will mean redeeming the time with people.
some of the sweet college girls I work with
this weekend, I sat on the backyard swing and sang along with Addie

we also hit up "Chimpanzees" with precious little Megan

Where do I get that idea? Well, Jesus modeled it. He lived in close community with His twelve disciples for three years and He spent His days teaching, healing and interacting with lots of people. Jesus was no hermit. He lived in almost continual contact with the world.

Jesus also spent a lot of time talking about this principle:

"The second (greatest commandment) is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'" - Matthew 22:39.  

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." - Matthew 28:19-20

"Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same...but love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful." - Luke 6:31-33, 35

Christians aren't here on earth just to enjoy life or bide their time waiting for Christ's return, we are here to live in relationship with those around us and through that interaction, display our relationship with our heavenly Father. 
Courtney in a Bratcher sister sandwich, modeling Ugandan beads for an upcoming show

I have heard the caution that the longer one remains single, the more they will have to fight against selfishness.The idea is that singles can become so accustomed to doing things their way that their personal preference and comfort become the driving forces of their lives. This version of the selfish single is independent, frivolous and contributing absolutely nothing to the kingdom of God. That life is incompatible with the life Christ has called us to live and is the antithesis of what Paul wrote that Christian singleness should be: 

"But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and his interests are divided. The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband." - 1 Corinthians 7:32-34

One of the biggest benefits of being single should be the undivided affection we have for Jesus. 

And it is this affection that redirects my use of time from mindless to mindful. I am His -  my time is His, my gifts are His, my energies are His; let me then use them all for Him! 
recent trip to the McDonald Observatory in Ft. Davis...magical sunset

The last post that I wrote included the truth that all believers - both single and married - are united in the call of Christ. We are living the same command  - "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind" - in different contexts...and that is true. But it is within these contexts that we find different responsibilities and expectations.

As singles, we have a unique opportunity to spend ourselves more freely than our married friends. Remember this passage from John Piper's book, What's the Difference? Manhood and Womanhood Defined According to the Bible? It made it's first appearance on this blog in 2009, in the first entry published. It remains one of my favorite exhortations:

My earnest desire and prayer for you is:

That you step back and plan the various forms of your life's ministry in chapters. Chapters are divided by various things - age, strength, singleness, marriage, employment, children at home, children in college, grandchildren, retirement, etc. No chapter has all the joys. Finite life is a series of trade-offs. Finding God's will, and living for the glory of Christ to the full in every chapter is what makes it a success, not whether it reads like somebody else's chapter or whether it has in it what only another chapter will bring.

That you be totally committed to ministry, whatever your specific calling; that you not fritter your time away on soaps or women's magazines or unimportant hobbies or shopping; that you redeem the time for Christ and His Kingdom.
That if you are single, you exploit your singleness to the full in devotion to God and not be paralyzed by the desire to be married.
That you develop a wartime mentality and lifestyle; that you never forget that life is short, that billions of people hang in the balance of Heaven and Hell every day, and that the love of money is spiritual suicide, that the goals of upward mobility (nicer clothes, cars, houses, vacations, food, hobbies) are a poor and dangerous substitute for the goals of living for Christ with all your might and maximizing your joy in ministry to people's needs. (pp.72-78)

This season holds incredible potential. I see it as a time of investing - both in my relationship with Christ and in my relationships with others. Contrary to popular opinion, being single doesn't mean that you live alone. In fact, I think there is strong evidence that the Christian single is meant to be the heart of the Christian community -  loving, serving and ministering to the body of Christ in ways that married believers can't (and shouldn't). 

Undivided affection for Christ will lead us to unselfish service to His bride. 

I want to encourage every single reading this to become actively involved in a local, Christ-following body of believers. It is there that you will find opportunities to both bless and be blessed, encourage and be encouraged, invest and be invested in. Don't waste your singleness; use it for the glory of God and the strengthening of His people!


Waiting... said...

I'm really encouraged by your post. One sentence stood out to me.
"you exploit your singleness to the full in devotion to God and not be paralyzed by the desire to be married"

I have been single for 5 years, and celibate for almost 9. I was raised in the church and have truly dedicated my life to God for quite some time but am honestly discouraged at times because of the waiting period. I know God has it all under control and I give and serve in my church dedicating my life to serving God. I'm in a season of transition and need God to reignite the fire that I had in years past. I've had to confess and pray and read specific scriptures to keep myself encouraged.

Thank God for you blog, Sharing you experiences is truly a blessing...

God Bless You

Maurie said...

Thank you so much for sharing your heart. God is honored by your love and devotion to Him and He will surely honor your season of waiting. When He is our treasure, we are always satisfied. Thank you for your encouragement!
Press on -