It has been said that God’s Word has the answer for everything we might face in life. Included in the NT are specific teachings for Christian women, who, for one reason or another, find themselves living as single believers. God apparently has a special place in His heart for these dear sisters, and this article will look at what He would have us learn.
THE COMMENDABLE STATUS OF SINGLENESS
Paul addresses the single sister, yet unmarried. It is most important to note that the value of this dear woman is not determined by being linked to a husband or to children. Her value is solely determined by her devotion to the Lord. She has the very real opportunity to “attend to the Lord without distraction,” being able to give diligent service to the Lord without the distractions of domestic duties. Young women may view these years as “marking time” or “treading water,” waiting for the right man to come along. But Paul shows how these sisters can have a true care for the things of the Lord, and can develop a real exercise for personal holiness and purity. During these years, she can develop a spirit of patient waiting on the Lord, and the character she develops will remain for life, whether or not she eventually marries in the Lord.
THE COMMENDABLE TRAITS OF SINGLENESS
Paul writes of widows and the care of the local church for them. As a widow, a woman’s life had been accompanied by devotion to every good work. She had been faithful as a wife to her husband. She was well-known for her good deeds. She had raised her children well (“brought up” means “to have fulfilled the duties of a female parent”). Her home had been opened for hospitality, and she had been an unselfish servant to others. Her entire life was characterized by traits which honored the Lord. How many of these traits were learned in her single years? She is contrasted to a younger widow, living for herself. Do you suspect her years before marriage were spent living for herself, or for the Lord and others? The woman she was when single, was the woman she still was when she became single again.
THE COMMENDABLE RESULTS OF SINGLENESS
(2Tim 1:5-6; 3:14-17)
Paul singles out Timothy’s mother and grandmother for commendation. His father was a Gentile and is not mentioned after Acts. The mentoring of these two women in the home had contributed to his unshakeable faith. From his earliest childhood, they had faithfully taught him the OT Scriptures and, no doubt, had applied them towards the salvation he received when he heard Paul preach the gospel. God had blessed their efforts in the character of this young man. Paul describes Timothy’s faith as “sincere, real,” and says that this same faith “first found a home” in the hearts and lives of these two godly women. This is a valuable lesson for the mother or grandmother who have had to, by default, become the spiritual leader, teacher, and example in the home. There is no greater occupation on earth than the imparting of spiritual value into the hearts and minds of children. The Lord richly blesses this effort, and is still able to bless young lives today by giving them similar godly character and testimony that was developed in Timothy.
THE COMMENDABLE CHOICES OF SINGLENESS
(Luke 1:27-29, 34-38, 46-55)
When Gabriel startled Mary, she may have been only 14 years old. What he told her would change every single aspect of the rest of her life; nothing would ever be the same again. We never read of her rebelling or protesting. Instead, she said, in essence, “I am the bondslave of the Lord; let this happen to me exactly as you say.” In these Scriptures we see testimony to her purity, courage, resolve, and an unquestioning trust in her Lord. She also gives us a glimpse into the home in which she was raised. When she bursts forth into her spontaneous song of praise, she quotes from at least 15 different OT passages! How many of us knew the Scriptures that well at that age? Her song shows clearly that she was raised in a home where God’s Word was not only valued, but committed to heart, as a way of life.
THE COMMENDABLE MEMORY OF SINGLENESS
We are given a glimpse into one of the funerals of Scripture. Dorcas had been called home. There was much weeping and sadness; the widows freely spoke through their tears of all she had been and done, and of the garments she had made for others. She is called “a disciple,” and her life was filled with deeds of love to others. The heartbreak was over a productive and unselfish life having ceased, and the wonderful memories she left behind. The key phrase in the passage is “while she was with them.” We don’t know how long that time was. What we do know, was that it was well-spent for the Lord.
Perhaps you are now a single young sister still in your parents’ home. What testimony will you leave while you are with them? Maybe you are a young sister, still unmarried, and in assembly fellowship. There may come a time when you leave that fellowship and move to another assembly, for school, work, the mission field, or marriage. What memories will you leave behind?
In these passages, we see that the NT recognizes that God grants certain women the gift of singleness, even though, for the widows, this is accompanied by heartbreak and sorrow. Yet we see in these few lives, the spiritual character and maturity of these dear women. They all used their single status, whatever it was, for undistracted devotion and service to the Lord and others. May all such be truly encouraged by these Scriptures.