Jump Start # 2376
1 Timothy 4:12 “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.”
The unmarried Christian– instead of single and happy, many feel as if it is a curse or a disease. One of our readers asked me to write about the “single Christian.” Now, that expression can mean different things to each of us. The single parent. The widow or the widower, technically is single. The divorced is single. Teenagers are single. What I mean, and the direction of this Jump Start, are those who are of marrying age, but have never married. They are single. The single Christian.
There are a variety of reasons why some are single. Some focused upon school and career first. Others, just haven’t found the right person. For some, they like being single. It’s their choice. Within the church there are some awkward and uneasy situations that the single Christian finds himself in.
- There are those who try to arrange dates for you with their sisters, cousins and nieces. When I first started preaching I was single. I’d be invited over to people’s home for Sunday dinner. There was always an empty chair right beside me. Soon came someone’s sister, cousin, niece that the host thought would be a great date for me. Very awkward.
- There are those who say inappropriate things, such as, “don’t you like boys?” Or, “You’re not gay are you?”
- Then there are the times you feel like a third wheel. You’re too old to hang out with teens. Everyone else your age is married and has kids. So, when a couple is having a few people over, they are not sure what to do with you. Do they invite you or not? You feel like you have leprosy. You feel like a charity case. You don’t want people feeling sorry for you, as if you have something wrong with you.
There are four unique advances that Satan will try upon the single Christian.
First, there is stealing your joy because you are not where you want to be. This is the shopping mall syndrome. You enter a large shopping mall and look at the directory. There is a large red X declaring this is where you are. But you want to be some where else. Parents and grandparents put pressure upon you to marry and have kids. At every wedding you hear, “When will it be your turn?” All of this can rob you of the joys that God wants you to have. Being single gives you the freedom to travel, to teach, to help brethren in far away places. This is a blessing. You can do so much for the kingdom. Don’t view being single as something you must get rid of as soon as you can.
Second, settling for the consolation prize. You grow weary of waiting for the right person, so you take whatever comes along. It’s the second place, the runner up, the almost, but not quite. This person may not be a Christian. He may not have the same values as you do. Getting married to just be married isn’t the right choice. Being in a mad marriage is a terrible place to be. There are married people who wish that they were single. That’s not a place you want to be in.
Third, finding yourself in a place you don’t belong. That’s the prodigal’s story. He’s in a pig pen. Pigs belong in a pig pen, not people. Stuck in guilt. Miserable. Unhappy. Wishing you could go back and make different choices.
Fourth, selling out. Exchanging the spiritual for the physical. Trading the eternal for the temporary. This is what Esau did when he sold his birthright for a common meal. You start hanging out with those you thought you never would. You find yourself doing things that you would never have done a few years ago. Your thoughts on social drinking changes. Your views on divorce change. The reality is that you are getting weaker spiritually and you do not even realize it. You are trading the spiritual for the physical. You are selling out.
The Single Christian ought to understand that they may not live to be old. Life teaches us this. They ought to also understand that they may be single for a long time, even all of their life. They need to use the opportunities that they have to their advantage and to the advantage of the Kingdom. They need to rejoice, be happy and be a blessing to others. I think of my friend Robin, who has passed away. What a great single Christian he was. He taught classes. He gave incredible lessons. He invited the church over to his backyard and showed outdoor movies. He arranged for lots of us to go to a Reds game. He did what he could. He made a difference, even being single.
The single Christian can help young parents. They can be the wonderful aunt or uncle to the kids in the congregation. Rather than feeling as if they carry a plague, they need to see the wonderful blessing that they can be to other people. Time, resources, money can make such a difference in the kingdom.
And, when folks say things about you still being single, simply smile, and realize that we must all serve Christ in whatever place we find ourselves. Bloom where you are planted—is not only a powerful expression, and an old sermon of mine, but it illustrates a wonderful Biblical concept for us. All along the highways, especially in my area, where you see the highway cut through the rocks, there blooms a flower, or, there grows a tree. No one planted it there. The winds blew the seed there and with just enough soil, sunlight and water that tree grew. Sticking out of a rock, it helps holds the rocks from falling. You don’t find people pulling their cars over to take a picture of those trees sticking out of the rocks. They are not like the Redwoods. However, they add beauty to an ugly rock and they bloom where they have been planted. In life, we all want to be those tall California Redwoods. But choices and life often doesn’t make that happen. For some, we are nothing more than a tree sticking out of a rock along side a highway. Not the place where we thought we’d be, but here we are. We can feel cheated, depressed and left out, or we can bloom where we have been planted.
Single and a Christian—nothing wrong with that. Make the most of it. You can do things that the rest of us can’t. We need you to be strong spiritually and using your talents powerfully for the kingdom. Our verse today shows the great example that young and single can add to the kingdom. You can remind the rest of us what we ought to be and what we ought to be doing. Be that example that God wants you to be!