DON’T WASTE YOUR SINGLENESS
Written by Doug Ponder on April 30, 2015
Don’t Waste Your Singleness
For the vast majority of people, singleness doesn’t last forever. It’s a phase, just a stage of life, a rest stop along the way. Singleness is temporary. But what you do with your singleness lasts forever. You can’t “go back” and relive your single years. Like the rest of your life, you’ve got one shot. You have one single life. That’s all. And you were made for God. Don’t waste your singleness.
Here are three common ways that most people waste their singleness:
1. Sowing Your Wild Oats
Before there was YOLO, there was “sowing your wild oats.” That was the cutesy phrase our parents and grandparents used to talk about the sins of their late teens and early twenties. Sowing your wild oats became a cultural expectation, a sort “pass” granted to people because “everyone does it.”
Even if that were true (and it’s not), it completely misses the point. Sin is never cute. Sin is so serious that Jesus had to die in order for you to be forgiven, so anything that cost Jesus his life is nothing to wink at. Instead of “sowing your wild oats” like your parents before you, God says to singles, “Do not follow the practices of your fathers, or observe their regulations, nor defile yourselves with their idols” (Ezek. 20:18).
But you must see that God gives his commands because he loves you, and he knows that you won’t find a life of joy or peace or lasting happiness in sin. Sin only brings despair and death. Sin wrecks lives, both the lives of others and your own. It brings shame and fear and guilt and stress. Sin tempts you with freedom but brings slavery.
Singles who say “no” to sin preach a powerful message to a world desperate for satisfaction—and it’s not the message of a clean moral life. It’s the message that there is a source of pleasure-filled joys in Christ that are deeper, richer, fuller pleasures than the cheap thrills of drugs, drunkenness, porn, and sex before marriage. It’s the message that you really do have a choice; you are not a dog in heat or a robot on cruise control. You can say “no” to these things when you have tasted and seen that the Lord is not only good—he is better.
I know that some of you have already dipped your toes in the pool. Perhaps you feel like there’s no point turning back now. That’s not true. The good news is that God picks us up where we are, and not where we should have been. This means the same soul-satisfying grace of God is available to you, and God will help you not waste your singleness.
2. Playing Games (Being Idle)
I have heard every defense of video games under the sun, both because there is nothing new under the sun (Eccl. 1:9) and because at one time I used all those excuses myself. “Video games are social. They promote community!” “Games help improve hand-eye coordination.” “Humans are storytellers, and games are where the best stories are told today.”
Even if those excuses are partially true, they completely miss the point. The problem with games is not the game itself, but the sheer amount of time most singles—and non-singles!—spend playing them. (Ladies don’t get a pass here, because “games” includes apps like Candy Crush, Trivia Crack, Words with Friends, and all forty-seven versions of Angry Birds.)
It is tempting when you are single to view your excess time as “free time,” but no time is actually free when you consider why your life exists. You were made to know God and enjoy him forever, and to spread the knowledge of his joy-inducing glory to everyone around you. Compared with a tremendously meaningful purpose like that, 20 hours of video games, TV shows, shopping, or napping doesn’t make sense. (And they are the kind of laziness that God condemns in the book of Proverbs on almost every page.)
Furthermore, since you probably won’t be single forever, playing games trains you in the wrong direction. It teaches you to see your life as yours, instead of someone else’s—first God’s, and then your spouse’s. This creates marriages down the road with people who fight over how much “me time” they each get. Their houses are full but their lives are empty because they have too much “self-space.”
While you are young, God encourages you to use your strength to do meaningful things. Consider your future, and where you are headed. Plan wisely. Get two jobs, if you are a man. (It’s going to take a lot of money to provide for your family, so make this your new motto: Earn all you can. Save all you can. Give all you can.) Don’t squander your singleness doing things that don’t matter. Use your time to build a life that will be a blessing to others.
3. Moping about Your Singleness
The last way people tend to waste their singleness is to spend most of it complaining about their singleness. I’ve been there. (We all have, since no one is born married.) It’s tough. Really, really tough. But complaining about your singleness won’t fix anything, and it’s a sure sign that you’re still struggling to be content in Christ.
Comparing the glorious promises of Jesus and the eternal joy he offers you to the temporary joy of marriage is like comparing a shot glass to the Pacific Ocean. God is giving you the ocean, and you are still asking for the shot glass! That may sound harsh, but it isn’t. It’s actually the key to your contentment. Until you see (and truly believe) that you are better off with Jesus and no marriage than with marriage and no Jesus, then you will probably never be content.
But contentment is possible, and I’m not talking about the gift of celibacy (more on that in a moment). The apostle Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). I know you heard that verse applied to passing exams and winning basketball games, but it’s actually about contentment and was written by a man who was single for life. Paul also says that contentment is something that must be learned (Phil. 4:11-12). That means you will grow in contentment through your singleness as you continue to trust Christ, to rely on him, and to seek the joy that comes from knowing him—especially when you don’t feel like it. Contentment is possible in Jesus, because of who he is. He leads us to say, “I want this, but I don’t need this, and if I don’t get this, I’ll be OK. Actually, I’ll be more than OK. I’ll be happy. Satisfied. Fulfilled—all because of Jesus. He is better than whatever it is that I want. I can be content in him.”
Read more about how you can be single and joyful at the same time.
Doug Ponder is one of the founding pastors of Remnant Church in Richmond, VA, where he serves in many of the church’s teaching ministries. He has contributed to several published works and is the author of Rethink Marriage & Family. His interests include the intersection of theology, ethics, and the Christian life. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter.