Monday, January 09, 2017

Tips for Christian Singles - God's Will for Your Love Life

As a survivor and graduate of the single life, I have met and conquered many of the common struggles that come with singleness. It is human nature to desire companionship and intimacy, but there is a right and wrong way to pursue these desires. As Christians, God should always be our top priority and our chief consultant. It is when we ignore His wisdom, and put focus more on the world than on our Father that things begin to unravel.
Anytime our lives become out of step with what is considered the "norm", we are flooded with well-intentioned advice. "You should date more. You should date less. You should try a blind date. How about a dating show? Are you on E-Harmony? I've got this friend.... Maybe you should change your look." The problem here isn't the advice; it is the source.
I remember singleness and how lonely it made life at times. Especially around those disgusting couples who insist on slobbering all over each other right in front of you. The danger with allowing singleness to spawn loneliness is that it often gives rise to desperation. Desperation will then, almost certainly, lead to searching. If I learned nothing else from being without love it's that searching for "Mr. Right" is futile. I can recall the day that I realized this truth, and like a lightning bolt I embraced God's timing for my love life.
You may not be ready to take that leap of faith, but perhaps I can help you take a baby step of faith. Before you can be happily married or committed you need to discover how to be happily single and to do that you must understand and accept the circumstances that surround singleness. In order to live a happy, single life we must understand and accept the circumstances that surround it.
1. Before you can have an intimate relationship with another person, you must engage in an intimate relationship with Christ. Let's speak Greek for a minute. Compared to the Greek translation of scripture, the English version is extremely watered down. In our culture we use the word "love" to cover a huge span of emotions. We throw it around on Facebook like it's a hot potato. In the Greek there are several different words that translate into "love". The one I want to focus on is "agape". Agape is a divine love. It's a love that we only experience through our connection with the Holy Spirit. We can only share agape when we are yielded to the spirit. In the following scriptures agape is the word used for love.
"Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love." -1 John 4:8
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." -John 3:16
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." -John 13:34-35
"But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." -Romans 5:8
God is love, so apart from God there is no love. There may be strong affection, great admiration, passionate infatuation, but there is not agape. If you are not equipped with agape then you are not ready to be married, and if you are not ready to be married then you certainly shouldn't be looking for a date.
2. Feeling like you're ready for a relationship does not mean you're ready for a relationship. If you haven't yet embraced the many negative aspects of being human, I suggest you do so right now. We're really pretty ridiculous little creatures. We're fickle. We're shallow. We're petty. We think we know a lot more than we actually do. I imagine that this is somewhat humorous to God, but probably mostly irritating. I know you think you're "ready", but what you think is irrelevant. You have to know that God's love is unfailing, and His wisdom far exceeds ours.
For a long time I thought that God only cared about the big, "important" things in my life. What I will be when I grow up, what church I will go to, where I will live, but certainly not something as insignificant as my love life. Listen People, he cares about every part of our lives.
"Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart," -Psalm 37:4.
But just as we must keep in mind that He cares and is willing to help, we must also realize that if we do not hold up the empty places in our life He will not fill them. He can't cradle you in His hands if you're constantly fighting to jump out!
3. You must be ready to walk steadily beside Christ before you can walk down that aisle. Before you can have a Christ-centered relationship you must have a Christ-centered life. If your relationship is focused around anything other than God it will not be blessed. If you find a couple that has been together for 40 years and has never experienced trying times, I want to talk to them! Issues are going to arise, that goes back to us being imperfect. Every relationship, whether it is newlyweds or a marriage of 50 years, will hit rough patches. If when you fall, you both land at the feet of Christ and allow Him to lead you threw it, you will persevere.
Today's society makes it far too easy to turn to divorce as a solution to marital problems instead of turning to Christ. Marriage is a serious commitment and it shouldn't be taken lightly. If you're approaching that altar with a "if it doesn't work we can just get a divorce" mentality, then you need to slow your roll. Marriage is not a game; it's not a pastime; it's a big deal. You're making a commitment not just to the person holding that ring, but to Christ. It is a binding contract that ties two hearts together and makes them one!
"...and they will become one flesh," Genesis 2:24.
I know that this is a touchy subject. I come from a family that has been severely bitten by the divorce bug. Let's just say I have a lot of aunts and uncles. I know the effects divorce can have on a family which is why this subject is so close to my heart. If we don't regain some of that respect for the sanctity of marriage that our society once had, our divorce rates are going to continue to climb. The more familiar we become with something the easier it becomes to accept it.
4. Happiness is not found in another person, it is found in Christ. OK, this is key. If you're miserable with your life and you think falling in love and getting married is going to fix it, you need to think again. Regardless of how sweet that guy is and how wonderful he smells he is going to fail you at some point. That's just how it works. If your happiness is entirely wrapped up in your spouse what will happen when they slip up? Naturally, you'll start looking for a new happiness fix. Happiness is not found in people, or things, or accomplishments, it's found in Christ. Only in Christ. Nowhere but in Christ. That's it. Stop arguing.
5. There are blessings that come with singleness and you should welcome them! Both marriage and singleness are important to accomplishing God's purposes for His children. For this reason we must accept our personal situations as part of His will for our lives. Paul was a champion of the single life. Without the distraction of a partner you can focus more of your time, energy, and affection on God. He didn't criticize marriage, but he encouraged people to accept singleness not as a plague, but as a gift.
"I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am." -1 Corinthians 7:7-8

I don't want to give the impression that I feel you must start a relationship off with these standards met in order for it to be successful. I know a lot of couples that were married for years before their relationship began revolving around Christ. No one has a perfect beginning. But hey, if you can avoid some of the mud and muck that other married people have had to wade through, then you're that much more likely to have a successful marriage. If you get nothing more out of this I pray you come to terms with this truth: He is the potter and we are the clay! Quit jumping and let Him hold you. Turn your eyes to Him, your heart to Him, and your ears to Him and wait for Him to guide your next step.
"...written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God," - 2 Corinthians 3:3

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