People ask me why I'm not married.
My simple answer — it's not God's will.
More than that, I look at my singleness as a gift.
God gives various gifts, and some look more glamorous than others. Some we want to leave unopened.
But we must embrace all God's gifts for us, including singleness.
Singleness may not be one of the spiritual gifts listed by the apostle Paul in his letters, but he certainly treated his own singleness like one:
"Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am" (1 Corinthians 7:8, New International Version).
With Paul as an example, we can say yes to the gift of singleness because, as God's Word teaches, every good and perfect gift comes from Him.
I illustrate this by turning "yes" into an acrostic.
We must yield ourselves to God. We can be honest with Him about anything, especially our emotions about singleness. After all, Jesus was single. And He sympathizes with our weaknesses; He was tempted just like us (Hebrews 4:15).
Many years ago I thought I had met my Prince Charming. I remember telling God all my reasons why this man absolutely had to be the one for me.
I sensed God's reply: But Nancy, how much more would it glorify Me if I teach you how to live with an unfulfilled desire?
I did not want to hear that. But through my tears I said, "Father, I want Your will more than mine. Take away anything that's not Your will for me."
Not only did God take that relationship away, but He's also taken away others.
Psalm 118:9 says, "It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes."
Satan tries to make us think we need a certain person other than Jesus to make us happy, but no person can take the place of Jesus. God meets our intimacy needs in many ways, not just through marriage.
And when God says, "I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness" (Jeremiah 31:3), "lovingkindness" literally means "loyalty."
I often think about how God wants me all for Himself, how He's so jealous for my love that He doesn't want anything, not even a spouse, to take His place.
Jim Elliot, the missionary martyr, once said, "Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God."
For singles, that means making the most of our singleness. In 1 Corinthians 7:32-35, Paul outlines the key to his passion for and focus on Jesus:
"I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs — how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world — how he can please his wife — and his interests are divided...I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in...undivided devotion to the Lord."
Singleness holds advantages the body of Christ has often overlooked.
While you're single, you have more freedom for undistracted devotion to the Lord, freedom from many earthly concerns, and sharper focus on the things of the Lord.
This is especially important in light of the increasing speed of the spiritual harvest around the world. God needs more servants who can go at the drop of a hat wherever He says, without constraints.
Isaiah 58:10,11 teaches that if we invest our lives on behalf of the physically and spiritually needy, God will strengthen us and satisfy our own needs.
Only when we're wise stewards of our lives do we fully understand the greatness of God's gift of singleness.
Some of the advantages of singleness aren't meant for us alone.
The Bible says, "Do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another" (Galatians 5:13).
We singles have an extra measure of time and freedom to serve people. For example, we can ask married friends if we can take their kids for a day. Or we can volunteer to help with some ministry activity.
Singleness is a calling to a deeper love relationship with Christ, to undivided devotion to Him.
In this calling He proves the sufficiency of His love, showing that we find our deepest fulfillment through intimacy with Him.
It is a call to love others as He loves us — unselfishly, generously and universally.
If you're single, take time to talk to God, to embrace His gift of singleness to you and offer it back to Him so He may sanctify it for His purposes.
You may need to confess to Him that you have not received His gift in love.
Until you do, you haven't said yes to the fullness of all God has given you.
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