Guarding Your Heart for a Godly Marriage (Part 4: Contentment)
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. (Prov 4:23, ESV)
According to a recent Crossway survey:
- 53% of singles worry about finding a spouse
- 42% feel defined by the lack of a spouse
- 58% feel discouraged
- 34% feel frustrated with God
Even as we have discussed how to prepare your heart for a godly marriage, the reality is that some of you may not marry for several years, or ever. What then? The principles of selflessness, purity, and wisdom will still serve you well as a single Christian. But another virtue must be cultivated in your heart: contentment.
If Satan can convince you that God is not good because you are not married, your joy will be robbed and your potential for bringing glory to God will be diminished. Even if you do marry in the near future, the married Christian must also guard against discontent. Marriages often end because an individual idolizes their marriage or spouse, assuming marriage will bring an unrealistic level of joy and satisfaction.
Only Christ can satisfy. Guard your heart from discontent. This will benefit you as you wait for marriage, and in the future as you live the married life or the permanently single life.
1. Find joy in Christ.
In Hebrews 13, the author draws attention to two common arenas for discontent: sex (v. 4), and money (v. 5). Christian, you are to “be content with what you have” (v. 5). How, when so many around us are hedonistically indulging their sexual whims and greedily accumulating wealth and possessions? Christians can be content because we have a pleasure greater than sex and a treasure that money can’t buy: we have God. “He has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (v. 5).
We often take God’s presence for granted, but think where you would be without the gracious work of God in your life! Spiritually blind, groping for answers. Enslaved to sin, miserable in your selfishness. Mired in guilt, dreading an eternity without hope.
What joy is found in the saving gospel of Christ! What glory in being adopted into God’s family! To have a relationship with God is to have all you need.
2. Find family in the church.
One of the burdens of the single life is loneliness. Many singles long for the companionship of a spouse and the soul-expanding adventure of parenting. The good news for single Christians is that God has provided for you a family: your local church. First Timothy 5:1-2 invites us to relate to older men in the church as fathers, “younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters.” The apostle Paul, though single, claimed spiritual parenthood of the believers in Corinth (1 Cor 4:15). Making disciples is a beautiful way for a childless believer to “have children”! Even if they “miss out” on the earthly shadow of marriage, Christian singles enjoy the greater heavenly reality of participation in the bride of Christ: the church.
3. Find purpose in increased availability for ministry.
Paul surprised his contemporaries in 1 Corinthians 7 by commending the single life as advantageous for ministry. He acknowledges that most are not able to commit to a life of celibacy and will marry (v. 2, 9), but he notes that it is “good” to remain single (v. 8). He explains: “The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife” (v. 32b-34a). Jesus also commended the single life, teaching in Matthew 19:12 that “there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.” He too acknowledged that not all are “able to receive this.” But some are, by God’s grace.
Many have joked that the “gift of singleness” should come with a receipt! No doubt the single life has its challenges, with temptation and loneliness at the forefront. But the married life, blessing though it is, brings with it numerous time-consuming commitments that lessen availability for ministry. In my single adult years I enjoyed countless evenings of fruitful conversations with those I was discipling, sometimes into the wee hours of the morning. Now as a new dad, it’s difficult to be away from my family even one or two evenings per week. Take advantage of the extra time you enjoy in your single years and turn it into eternity-impacting ministry.
The best example of a single disciple-maker was Jesus himself, who never married. If the single life was not “beneath” Him, it is not beneath any of us. Jesus proved that you can lead a full, fulfilling, and fruitful life without ever being married.
4. Find peace in God’s sovereign plan.
Has your “single” status ever led you to question God’s goodness in your life? I wasn’t married until age 26, and there were plenty of moments between ages 20-25 when I questioned God’s plan and God’s care for me.
Do we really believe that God knows best? Do we believe that His care is so detailed that the hairs of our head are numbered (Matt 10:30)? Friend, He has not forgotten you. He loves you, and nothing will change that. Let the logic of the gospel assure you of this in your loneliest, most frustrated moments. “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Rom 8:31b-32). He gave you what you needed most: His Son Jesus Christ. He will give you everything else you need as well.
Life is short; eternity is long! Even if you never get married, in Christ you are immeasurably blessed. Even if you end up in an unhappy marriage, in Christ you are immeasurably blessed. Even if you end up in a marriage with an constant stream of trials, in Christ you are immeasurably blessed.
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Prov 13:12), but Jesus is the great physician. Don’t let yourself become jaded due to your unmet expectations. Pray, trust, obey, and wait on the Lord.
Say goodbye to your plans, say goodbye to your “ideal” future, and find peace in God’s sovereign plan. It is far, far better than yours.
For further growth:
Read Romans 8 each day this week.
Write out your hopes and dreams for your future. Are you, by faith, willing to part with each of these dreams if God wills? Pray for grace to trust God’s plan.
Gather with a group of believers who can encourage you in the Lord. If you're a young adult, I invite you to join us at the Harvest College & 20's group!