So, I wrote the last post to sort of point out the problem of our unbalanced understanding of singleness and sanctification. In this one, I’d like to think through what a solid, biblical view of singleness and sanctification looks like.
I think, first of all, that it’s not just about “patience.” We get told this a lot — that we’re so blessed to be learning patience, learning to “wait on the Lord” as we’re single.
I think it IS a lot about… just life. Married folks and parents especially get all kinds of advice about how to turn everyday stuff into an opportunity for sanctification. Messy husband? It’s a chance to love him sacrificially by just picking up the stupid sock and not nagging him about it. Hate folding laundry? It’s a chance to pray for your family, one stained onesie at a time. Frustrated by the neverending cycle of strife between your kids? Just think of how God feels when we continually rebel against him!
Too often, we only address the external, apparent frustrations of the single person (loneliness, desire for marriage) without just dealing with their everyday circumstances, so we end up giving them the same prescription for sanctification. Be patient. Rely on God. Both great, but just not enough, and definitely not specific enough. I definitely need sanctification in those areas, but not only those areas.
In my life, for example, my biggest sources of sanctification are my students and hosting community group. I’m constantly confronted with my own pride, laziness, and selfishness at work. At home, I constantly fail to live up to my God-given task of home-keeping, making my little domain a place of peace and welcome for whoever God sends.
But not only do we fail to give specific, life-focused counsel to single people, we also fail to give them a big picture. Ultimately, God’s purpose for me and God’s purpose for my married friends is identical: that we would be more like Jesus. And we do married people and single people a great disservice by overemphasizing their dissimilarities and under-emphasizing their similarities. My best friend, who’s married, needs to remember the Gospel just like I do. She needs to be made more like Jesus just like I do. She needs to respond to God’s grace by striving to live a life of excellence, purity, generosity, wisdom, perseverance, and self-control, just like I do. She needs to joyfully submit to those whom God has made her leaders, just like I do.
The external circumstances whereby she is reminded of the Gospel might be different, or they might not. The trials that refine and strengthen her faith might be different than mine, or they might not. But the final outcome is that God, who has promised to complete the work he begins in his people, will make her, and me, and every other believer, more like Jesus.