The Single's Gift

Your training program is now in place.

You have identified places in your life that need special focus in pursuing godliness and purity. At least one coach motivates you to keep at it. You even have an accountability partner, running right alongside you.

Success at this “Christian life” marathon looks like it’s moving in a good direction.

But wait a minute. There’s another person of the opposite gender coming up next to your accountability partner.

They lock eyes. They stop. Their heart beats a bit faster.

Next thing you know, they have tied their legs together with a rope labeled “Marriage.”

And now together they start running again…their marathon having the added challenge of being a three-legged race.

Not to be deterred, you keep running at your steady pace with only your own two legs to worry about.

You start to look around you.

Another couple is running tied together up ahead, one with arms extended to push a stroller and the other with diaper bags swinging back and forth behind them.

Another has a long rope trailing behind them with kids attached, trying to keep up.

And another with walkers!

Others continue running alone the closer they get to the end. You notice one elderly saint struggles to press on with a cane and a sad yet hopeful look on their face as they long to meet their beloved at the finish line.

Single believer, these are your teammates.

Just like you have been helped by them, you have a responsibility to help them in their race.

You do not see how you could possibly help since you have not had the same experiences?

Did you forget you are all still running for the same prize? The path to get to the finish line might look different for every believer, but we all have the opportunity and obligation to help each other get there.

Besides, what you have to say from your personal experience does not do much good anyway. We are to minister to one another with the all-sufficient, all-powerful Word of God (2 Tim. 3:16-17, 2 Pet. 1:3-4). We can do nothing apart from Him, yet He graciously allows and enables us to be part of His sanctifying work in others’ lives as they press on in their race (Jn. 15:5).

As 1 Corinthians 12 says, everyone washed by the blood of Christ has become an individual member of the body of Christ. Each one is an absolutely vital and unique part of that body, with a variety of gifts given by the Holy Spirit. Just as the ear is as equally valuable and necessary to the body as the eye, so the believer who can teach is as equally valuable and necessary as the one who participates in the hospitality ministry.

Furthermore, God has placed each member in the body with their specific gift according to His will. If one member does not use their gift, the whole body suffers. Therefore, we are to use them properly according to the grace given to us (Rom. 12:3-8).

Single believer, this includes you.

YOU are in YOUR church with YOUR spiritual gifts by God’s ordained purpose. It will not function without you.

To take it a step further, He has also ordained that right now you would have the gift of singleness (Remember we learned that in a previous article?). Until He sees fit to exchange that gift, we are to run faithfully in this manner (1 Cor. 7:17).

Not being married does not excuse you from using your gifts.

It actually gives you greater, unique opportunities to encourage your fellow runners regardless of the extra things they are running with.

How do we do that?

Fill the needs (Gal. 6:10; Heb. 10:24-25). Know where help is needed amongst the people and in the church’s regular functioning. Use the time and flexibility you have right now to meet those needs. Be the one to show up early and the last to leave. Be willing to do the seemingly unimportant and unnoticed tasks, like picking up snacks, making coffee, and stacking chairs. Those things are just as vital to the body’s functioning as teaching a Bible study or leading worship.

Knowing those needs requires us to faithfully attend church, get to know people, and seek opportunities for ministry. You will not know how to help if you are not there and do not talk. As I heard one friend say, be consistent, intentional, and available, and be amazed at what He will do through you as a result.

Practice the one anothers. Have you ever seen an asterisk next to any of these passages with a footnote that says it only applies to a married believer or a single? Of course not. Every believer is supposed to practice them toward every other believer. A single believer is just as capable of encouraging, exhorting, edifying, loving, forgiving, and confessing as any other runner in the race. How you practice it will look different in every relationship, but we are still called to do it. Without it, your fellow runner’s training program will be incomplete.

Start coaching someone else (2 Tim. 2:2; Tit. 2:1-8). Look behind you and notice other runners just starting their race or perhaps only a little behind you. Just as you have had a coach, you have a responsibility to come alongside someone else in their journey toward Christlikeness. In his epistles, Paul instructs older men and women to train the younger who in turn continue teaching others. This could mean those who are physically younger or spiritually less mature. It can mean formal ministry, weekly meetings, or inviting them into your home or out to coffee occasionally. Once again, this requires your consistency, intentionality, and availability to see the people, talk to them, and invite yourself into their lives.

Display Christ’s sufficiency (Mt. 6:32-33; 1 Cor. 15:10). When the church unintentionally makes you feel incomplete or like you are missing out on all life’s fullness, seize that as an opportunity to put the gospel on display in a glorious way. Seek to live in undivided devotion to the Lord and show that Christ is all you need. Not marriage or anything else in this world is needed to satisfy you and your heart’s desires. You may have a good desire to be married, but you have given that to Him and seek to live a life devoted to Him in thought, word, and deed that sanctifies you and edifies the body.

Rejoice in the gift of marriage given to others (Rom. 12:15). Did you wince when you read that? Our flesh does not want to be excited when someone gets something we want. Therefore, we must diligently pursue a heart attitude that can praise the Lord when He brings a couple together, knowing what a good gift and blessing that is from Him. Just because He has not deemed it good to give you does not mean you have a right to have a jealous heart towards them.

In those moments, remember…

  • Christ is sufficient.
  • You do not deserve nor are you entitled to anything.
  • He does not withhold any good thing from His children (Ps. 84:11).
  • Singleness is as much a gift as marriage.
  • Marriage has both highs and lows, just like singleness.

And finally, remember you both have the privilege to reflect Him in different ways and rejoice that you now get to watch them do that as they learn to run this three-legged race called marriage together.

When you do all these things, do you know what will happen? You will get to celebrate with all these saints at the finish line when Christ has been fully formed in them, and you will more greatly reflect the heart of Christ as you lay down your life to love and serve your teammates.

A note to the church: please be mindful of what you say to a single person. Rather than ask us about our “prospects,” ask us about our lives. Disciple us, pray with us, and help us get out of the tug of war to run the marathon of pursuing Christlikeness. Too often, comments make us feel inferior or worthless because God has not seen it good to give us marriage at this moment.

As we begin to draw this series to a close, have you felt a big unspoken issue lingering in the background that has been ignored? Something that could be a major cause of stumbling in your race? That starts with the letter “C?”

Madelyn Moses serves as the producer of Side by Side Productions, currently working on a docuseries on a biblical view of singleness, launching Fall 2023. She earned her MA in Biblical Studies from The Master’s University (Santa Clarita, CA). She resides in Bucks County, PA and attends The Master’s Church of Bucks County in Richboro, PA.