In the last blog, I promised to shed some light on what one can do as they wait on God for the right time to pursue romance. As I mentioned in Appreciating the Gift of Singlehood, there are aspects of personal growth that one can concentrate on when single. Today, I intend to share on some of these key areas. It is not possible to cover all these areas because they are many. Such a list does not exist since our God has a personal relationship with each one of us who walks with Him.
That’s the beauty of Christianity; we learn different lessons in our individual walks with God. I cannot overemphasize the importance of having a personal, dynamic and growing relationship with God. In today’s blog, I will be focusing on having a close relationship with God which will help one prepare for the next season (a relationship leading to marriage). It is also important to make it clear early enough that we will never be truly fully ready for marriage. This is because we are made of flesh. The flesh is weak and full of shortcomings and that’s why we need the cross. We are only made complete in Christ. There are several ways we can prepare for the next season of our lives without entangling ourselves in romantic relationships. These include: spending time with God in order to know your identity in Christ, developing biblical attitudes and godly character, all of which are a firm foundation for a successful marriage.
DRAWING CLOSER TO GOD
A person’s relationship to God is the most defining relationship in his or her life. All other relationships are defined by our relationship with God. May it be your desire to know God. There is a difference between knowing about God and knowing God. You see, the latter comes from a personal knowledge of Him. It comes from quality time spent interacting with Him. If I were to ask you, do you know Uhuru Kenyatta? You would probably tell me yes but in real sense, you do not. You know about him but you do not really know him. Only his family members and inner circle do. In the same way, unless you spend time with God daily, you are more likely to know about God than know Him. To know God, you need to not only read His word but also to study it and apply it in your life. James 1:23-24 says, “anyone who listens to the word and does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.”
I really love Micah 6:8: “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Every time I read that verse I am awed at the simplicity in it. It is so simple yet sums everything up in a way only God can. God has been good to you. He has been faithful to you-you have life and health. He has shown you what is good. And what does He require of you? That you love mercy and walk humbly with Him. To walk humbly with God is to be willing to walk in obedience to His word. To allow Him to work in your life; to mould you. Isaiah 64:8 states, “Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” To walk humbly with God is to submit and surrender fully to his Lordship. He is either Lord of and above all or not Lord at all.
Deuteronomy 10:12-13 states, “And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your god ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him. To serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and to observe the LORD’S commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?” (Emphasis my own).
Do not look forward to Sunday so that you can listen to people’s testimonies and how God has been good to them. Desire to have a personal experience of God’s goodness. God is not restricted to your pastor or to the “good people”. He is knocking at the door of your heart asking to come in. Revelation 3:20 states, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with Me.” will you let Him in? King David was a man after God’s own heart. Acts 13:22b states, “I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart: he will do everything I want him to do.” The same could be asked of you (and me). Are you a man after God’s own heart? Are you willing to follow God’s teachings to the letter? The Psalms are replete with David’s desire to be closer to God with the climax being in Psalm 51 when Prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba. In this Psalm, David asked God not to cast him away from His presence because David cherished being in God’s presence. “My soul waits for the Lord, more than watchmen wait for the morning” (Psalm 130:6). Can we just take a moment and imagine how the watchman waits for the morning??? That’s how we ought to yearn for the Lord. Just take a minute and try to behold God’s glory and kingdom (I mean it).
Psalm 42:1 states, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with god?
The Bible says that married people have a lot of concerns in this life which interrupt and hinder them from spending enough time with God (1 Corinthians 7:32-34). It is therefore wise to use the season when single to spend much time with God because we may not afford this privilege when married especially when the family has started growing.
KNOWING YOUR IDENTITY IN CHRIST
It is a tragedy that most young adults are struggling with identity. It gets worse because most of us young adults do not even know what we’re going through. Our enemy, the devil, has (to a large extent) succeeded in deceiving us that our identity is found in the way we look and dress; that we need to look and dress in a certain way to be loved. This results in the belief that our physical features and how good-looking we are (or not), ends up determining our happiness and worth. Many young ladies, for instance, have been deceived that they need to expose extra skin (in the name of fashion) to receive the attention of those around them. The devil is busy spreading deception through agents like mass media but where does that leave us as Christians? We are the light and salt of the earth. The devil came to steal, kill and destroy but Jesus Christ came so that we may have life and life in abundance (John 10:10).
I know of so many young men obsessed with hitting the gym and scores of ladies investing heavily on make-up and body-enhancing products. I am sorry- then again, I’m really not- if I touched a nerve right there and you have already passed judgement that I am old-fashioned or worse, archaic. Just brace yourself because the truth hurts. Know the truth and it shall set you free (John 8:32). It is not that I have anything against hitting the gym. In fact, it’s good until it becomes an obsession and you make it your god. 1 Timothy 4:8 states, “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” I advocate for exercise by all means. God wants us to be physically fit so that we can serve Him with all our body, soul and mind. For the ladies, make-up is not necessarily wrong but being pretty is not mentioned anywhere in Proverbs 31. It emphasizes on the behaviour and character of a woman. Make-up should be used moderately and not to draw attention.
Singlehood is the time to know and believe who your Creator says you are. It is time to discover who you are. “You discover who you are by discovering whose you are”, said Rick Warren. You belong to God and it is time to learn what God says about you. Your friends, classmates and even family are not the ones who created you. It is your Father in heaven. Don’t you think that He is the one who really knows who you are, having created you? The only way to know who we are is not by mere reading to get knowledge but an in-depth study of the Bible. Not only reading but also listening, studying, memorizing and meditating on the word of God, is the only way to know who we really are. There is this popular song: “I know who I am”. Most of us have heard it and even sang it yet we do not really know who we are. Therefore, I beseech you dear reader to ask yourself if you really know who you are, and where you have placed your identity. Is it in your family? Your looks? Your pretty face? Your money? Your education level? Your designer clothes? Your make-up?
1 John 3:1 says, “How great is the love the Father lavished on us that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”
DEVELOPING BIBLICAL ATTITUDE
Attitude is also an area we need to evaluate in our lives. Attitude is a person’s vantage point. For the Christian, this involves more than mere positive thinking. A godly attitude involves God-centred, Bible-based thinking- working to view ourselves, others and our circumstances from God’s perspective. The following are a few key ways that godly attitudes are expressed:
- An attitude of willing obedience to God:
An attitude of willing obedience recognizes the lordship of Christ in every area of our lives. “I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands.” (Psalm 119:60). Are you consistently looking for ways to submit more of your life to God? Are you working to develop an obedient attitude in your life?
- An attitude of humility:
The Bible states, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). An attitude of humility considers other’s needs first. Do you place other people’s needs first?
- An attitude of industriousness:
An attitude of industriousness is one of willingness to work hard at whatever task presents itself. Bill Bennett writes: “work is not what we do for a living but what we do with our living. The opposite of work is not leisure or play or having fun but idleness-not investing ourselves in anything.” In Proverbs 31:17, the noble wife is described as someone who “sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.” 1 Timothy 5:8 says that if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an un-believer.
- An attitude of contentment and hopefulness:
An attitude of hopefulness and contentment is one that recognizes God’s sovereignty in every situation. Are you always complaining when something doesn’t go your way? Do you view your circumstances with a view of hopefulness or do you remain confident of God’s faithfulness? We can draw a good example from the apostle Paul. He was content and hopeful in all circumstances: in times of need and in times of plenty, whether well-fed or hungry (Philippians 4:11-13).
As we self-examine our character, we should also examine our attitude toward life and the areas mentioned above. I urge you to labour to cultivate a God-centred and Bible-based attitude in your life. We need to work at becoming the right person instead of concentrating on finding the right person. If we become the right person, God in his own timing will bring along our way a person of the right character and attitude.
GROWING IN GODLY CHARACTER
The word “Christian” simply means a follower of Christ. In other words, it could be explained as Christlikeness or being like Christ. Therefore, a Christian is a person who is Christ-like. As a Christian, your daily goal is (and ought) to be more like Christ. However, one will never fully attain the character of Christ this side of eternity. Because of the sinful nature of man, we are weak and sinful and every attempt to be like Christ on our own is an act of self-righteousness. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). It is by grace through faith that we are saved from our sinful nature. Isaiah 64:6 states, “All of us have become like the one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” All our good deeds are like filthy rags before God. Someone once said that Christianity is a religion of the helpless. This is because our nature is sinful and we need God’s grace every single minute of our lives on earth. Our flesh is prone to sin every day and that is why we need to fix our eyes on Jesus, who is the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). As Christians, it is our daily strive to be like Christ each and every day before and after marriage. It is not a one-time event but a journey which we should not wait to start after marriage. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says that we are being transformed into God’s likeness with ever increasing glory.
“Character is what you are in the dark when no one but God is watching,” writes Randy Alcorn. What you see when you look at a person is neither their character nor their reputation. Character refers to who you are: decisions you have made and continue to make each day. We can examine our character by looking at the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives. In Galatians 5:22-23 it is written, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Search your heart and find out whether this fruit of the Holy Spirit is wholly evident in your life. We can see that it is not fruits but fruit. You either have it or you do not. Where do you lie? I can say that there is more to character than meets the eye. It may take an hour to know a person’s reputation but it can take even more than a year to know a person’s character. There are three areas we can observe in order to evaluate someone’s character (including our own).
- How a person relates to God
A person’s relationship to God is the most defining relationship in his or her life- when this relationship is not in order, every other relationship will suffer. You can tell a lot about a man or woman by his or her consistency with Christ.
- How a person relates to others
The other window to a person’s character is how they (and you) relate to authorities, opposite sex, companions, parents and other people around them. How is your relationship with your parents? What’s your attitude toward your dad and mom?
- Personal discipline
The third window to character is how a person disciplines and conducts his/her personal life. This can be seen in how a person: uses time (how does this person use leisure time?), how he or she handles money (does this person save or is he or she a spendthrift?) and how he or she takes care of his or her body (how does this person dress?).
As much as you (and I included) may want to start pointing fingers, it is time for you and me to evaluate our characters. Where do you stand in this evaluation? Is there room for improvement in your life? The point here is not to evaluate other people but to self-examine yourself. Is your character worth being admired by another person? What bad habits do you have? Can someone put up with your bad habits? Are you a good steward of your time?
In addition to drawing closer to God, knowing our identity, having the right attitude and growing in godly character, here are some other ways we can spend time when single to better ourselves while we wait for marriage:
- Discover and nurture your talents
God has gifted each one of us differently. It is time to discover any hidden talents within you and also to nurture the ones you already have. If you, for example, have been gifted musically, by all means nurture your talent and use it for the glory of God. (1 Peter 4:10).
- Develop godly friendships
In an earlier blog, I shared on the beauty of pure guy-girl friendships. It is now time to build such friendships and relate to members of the opposite sex within the framework God has provided. It is important to give priority to same gender friendships to avoid emotional entanglements. Ask God to bring your way people who support your values and beliefs and who will help you to draw you closer to God. (1 Timothy 5:2).
- Serve God
I cannot adequately explain the joy of serving God in your singlehood. We are called to serve God all our lives as Christians. To serve God is to serve man. Therefore, if you find any opportunity where you can offer help, go ahead. You are most available when you are single. It could be volunteering at a certain organization or helping at church with preparing for the service on Sunday. 1 Corinthians 15:58 tells us to always give ourselves fully to the work of the Lord because we know that our labour in the Lord is not in vain.
- Develop your career
For those who are still pursuing their studies, this is the time to put your focus on your studies. This is the time to give full attention to your studies. Build your career by adding other certifications that are going to help you. A good example is CPA for those who want to pursue a career in the business world.
- Read widely
In preparation for the next season of your life, it is important to read widely on the topic of singlehood as well as marriage. Maybe you could be having the wrong attitude toward marriage. It could be that you think that marriage is the climax of life. You could have believed in the lie that marriage is all bliss. It’s time to find out the truth. Marriage is not the finish line!!
- Be involved in ministry
It is your duty as a Christian to take part in the great commission. Find out where your gifting is and serve God in that area. Romans 12:6-8 mentions prophesying, serving, teaching, encouraging, meeting people’s needs, leadership and showing mercy.
Prayer is very important as it is a privilege to have communion with God. It is like a direct phone call to God. God does not have receptionists who pick His calls. Prayer is a highlight for the Christian. Can you just imagine talking to the Creator of the universe? Therefore, I urge you to pour out your heart to God through prayer. Ask Him to prepare you for the next season in your life. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to pray continually.
- Learn basic life skills
It is important to be equipped with the basic life skills. A good example is cooking. This goes not only to the ladies but also to the gents. For the ladies, you may want to learn more cookery skills by enrolling for a cooking course. It is also important to learn computer skills. Am not talking about gaming, watching movies and listening to music. Learn how to effectively use a computer. Another basic life skill is driving. Enrol in a driving school and acquire the skill. Swimming is also a basic that you should learn.
- Develop financial discipline
Train yourself to use the money you have wisely, however little it is. Train yourself to be faithful with the little so that God can bless you with more. Develop the discipline of saving at least monthly. Also, learn how to tithe and to give to those in need. 2 Corinthians 9:6 tells us that “whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
- Seek counsel
Approach older brothers and sisters in Christ and ask them how they have managed so far. Seek counsel from your pastor or even mentor. Learn to find and keep a mentor. You are the one who needs them and therefore try as much to keep in contact with them, especially if they have a family of their own. Seeking accountability is a very important discipline that will ensure we remain on the right track. Develop godly friendships which can help you to be accountable. (Proverbs 15:22).