In our last Bible study, we talked about the plan God had for Isaac and Rebekah. It turned out their love was real and inspired by God. They trusted his judgement and they fell in love in a short space of time and were married.
But not everyone is blessed with the gift of a life partner.
The truth is that sometimes God calls us to be single. As a matter of fact, the Bible has some great examples of folks who remained single. Mary Magdalene, Martha of Bethany, Mary of Bethany, Miriam, Jeremiah, Lydia, John the Baptist and the greatest single of them all was Jesus.
Imagine someone going up to Jesus and saying, “Why aren’t you married yet?”Discuss your reactions to that question as if it was asked of him today.
Are we too quick to admonish someone who is single? Sometimes our comments can be cringeworthy! They can simply be too brutal and said without consideration for the single person, who very well may be quite sad and depressed about their single status anyway. Do they really need reminding of their singleness? Maybe you are sadder for them than they are of themselves!
REACH FOR YOUR BIBLE
While our intentions are good, maybe there are some advantages of being single. Read 1 Corinthians 7:32–34. Discuss the differences of being married and not married.
Think of a single Christian person you know. From your observations has God blessed them with certain gifts allowing them to serve him freely? What are those gifts?
Let’s revisit the lives of the singles in the Bible.
Mary Magdalene faithfully followed the Lord after he freed her from the demons that bothered her. She had no other obligations. She was honoured to be one of the three ladies at the foot of the cross when Jesus was crucified.
Discuss what that freedom may have felt like and how do you think she felt at Jesus’ crucifixion.
Martha of Bethany was a faithful servant and had the gift of hospitality. She served Jesus and others when they visited her home, which she shared with her sister Mary and brother Lazarus.
Do you know anyone who has been blessed with the gift of hospitality and is single?
Mary of Bethany has a special place in Scripture. She loved Jesus and even washed his feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. She was persecuted for this, but Jesus said she would be remembered for her loving care: Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her. (Mark 14:9)
Can you think of a woman in current times who has dedicated her life to Christ?
Miriam was courageous even as a young girl when she brought Moses’ (her brother) own mother to Pharaoh’s daughter for a nurse and then went with Moses and their brother Aaron to lead the Hebrews out of captivity.
Do you know of a woman of today who has Miriam’s type of courage?
Jeremiah had no problem at all faithfully recording the prophecies that God gave to him. He did this because he believed his calling (Jeremiah 1:1-9). God trusted him to do it (Jeremiah 1:12). Throughout the chapters in the Book of Jeremiah we see Jeremiah’s commitment to prayer and humility to accept the help of others that the Lord sent his way.
Can single people be a blessing in your congregation?
Lydia, a great business woman, successfully produced and sold a unique shade of purple in Thyatira (Acts 16:14). She used her wealth and home to serve those in the ministry (Acts 16:15).
Do you think Lydia lived a fulfilled life without marrying?
Ruth, even though she was a young widow, can be looked on as a wonderful example of a servant to her family. Upon the death of her husband she considered her mother-in-law Naomi as her own mother. She did as Naomi said to do and during her time of singleness continually provided for Naomi. God eventually provided a new husband for Ruth named Boaz, and it was her noble character that first drew him to love her and want her as his wife. You can read her story in the book of Ruth.
Do you have any friends who married later in life or found love after the death or divorce of their partner? Discuss the difference between teenage love and middle-aged love.
John the Baptist was the one who prepared the way for the Lord. He followed Jesus and preached his message regardless of the consequences to him personally. Eventually he was beheaded by King Herod for his persistence in spreading the word, and even chastising the king for his marriage to his brother’s wife. (Mark 6:14–29)
Poor John, he hardly had a chance at love before losing his head. Do you think he had time for love?
Jesus was never married. This makes him the most well-known ‘single’ of all time! However, his singleness allowed him to be totally devoted to his mission as Saviour of the world.
These days many more people are single, some have always been so, some are single again through death, divorce, or break-ups. For all of us our hope is the same. It is in Jesus Christ; his provision in this life and the eternal life to come. In our baptisms we received the Holy Spirit who creates faith and guides us, and the Holy Spirit through Paul gives a whole chapter to the topic of singleness (1 Corinthians 7).
Here the Spirit lifts up the vocation of singleness, just as he lifted up children, servants and the broken.
Psalm 141:3 says, Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord. Keep watch over the door of my lips. Be sensitive and kind to one another, regardless of each other’s marital status. Speak carefully and with love.
We are one eternal family walking together by faith. Married, or single, we receive companions for the road. (Ecclesiastes 4:12, Luke 10:1, 1 Corinthians 1:3–7). Our Heavenly Father has created these gifts of singleness and marriage and will provide you with your daily bread and what’s best for your eternal salvation.