So far we have noted that it is good to be single, yet there are some challenges. Today we want to consider two benefits.
Benefit #1 – Simplicity
Single people can focus their time and energy in one direction, whether that be school, career, or some other pursuit. They have more freedom to take opportunities that come along. It is easier to move from one place to another. Family complicates things. Our focus is torn in different directions. Time is divided. Responsibilities increase. It is harder to provide for a family than one person. It is harder to take opportunities, and harder to move. Married folks have worldly troubles or tribulations that single people never have ( I Corinthians 7:28). Not that family is bad, but it does complicate life. Both singleness and marriage have benefits, and one benefit of singleness is simplicity.
Benefit #2 – Undivided Attention
This benefit is directly related to the first, but moves in a specific direction. Paul writes in I Corinthians 7:32-35:
I want you to be free from anxieties. 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, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.
In marriage, much attention must be given to my spouse – his/her needs, wants, and concerns. The single person can focus solely on God. Now certainly in loving family we can show love to God, and in serving family we can serve God. But the married person’s attention is still divided.
In the passage above, Paul uses the same phrase three times with three different objects: “how to please” followed by “the Lord,” his wife,” and “her husband.” Married people can easily replace the Lord with wife or husband. This of course is idolatry. This does not have to happen, but the temptation is there – a temptation single people simply don’t have.
While Paul envisions (and assumedly enjoys) this benefit of undivided attention to God for single people, I fear that it is rather rare today. Too many single people find any number of other things to distract themselves from undivided attention to God. And many dream of that perfect spouse who will fulfill all their needs; that is, they have turned their dreamed-of-spouse into an idol.
But Paul challenges singles to something better. With the simplicity and undivided attention possible with the single life, Paul challenges singles to devote their lives to God. Instead of living a distracted life, focus on serving him. Instead of pining for someone, hunger and thirst more for God.
The greatest benefits of singleness is the simplicity that makes undivided attention to God possible. If you are single, embrace this benefit with everything you have. Focus on God. Seek him. Serve him. Love him. Live for him.