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BIBLE SEARCH
Significant Single Saints
If you are single, or single again, may the examples of these saints from Scripture set you free to celebrate your singleness.


"You just do not understand."
"You have never been in my shoes."
"This is a pair-shaped world."
"Singles are second rate citizens."

God responds to the cry of both you and your children.

Sound familiar—especially from those who are single again?

Since this segment of society is growing significantly, it helps to have a handle on survival techniques—not only
from contemporaries, but also from some single saints from
centuries back who significantly impacted their society.

From the Old Testament, please meet:

Hagar the harried handmaid (see Genesis 16 and 21)

The setting—ancient Palestine circa 2000 BC. The subjects—a couple of senior citizens still struggling to get in the family way.

Caught in the middle of this milieu is Hagar the maid. In that society, she must submit to Sarai's request to assist her (as well as God), out of a biological and chronological jam. Hagar became pregnant by her master Abram and subsequently gave birth to Ishmael.

But Sarai got pregnant and gave birth to Isaac. To make a long story short, the blended family never blended and they have been scrapping ever since.

Trapped in this trauma of mistreatment and rejection, she discovered, "God sees and God cares" (Genesis 16:13, 21:17—20).

Single moms—regardless of how you got that way—you must know, heaven helps the harried handmaid. Hagar was miraculously sustained through her time of trial. Read the story. Be reminded, God sees and God cares. He responds to the cry of both you and your children.

Joseph the handsome bachelor (see Genesis 39:5—15)

Far from home, faced with the flirtatious advances of the boss' wife, what do you do? Society today sees nothing wrong with a little philandering on the side—providing you don't get caught. But Joseph knew, to capitulate is to be caught—every time. So he ran. A cowardly act? No. It was the right thing to do. Costly, but courageous. Guys, the opportunities will always be there—the subtle advance at the office, the blatant advertisements, the x-rated movies, and the outright propositions. Running may well be your best option. But what is so cowardly about running from AIDS, or other sexually transmitted diseases?

Run from ruined reputations, a ream of regrets, a life of residual negative effects upon a future marriage—plus the spiritual consequences of violating God's instruction:

"Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart" (2 Timothy 2:22).

Advice from the handsome bachelor: Hold out till you are married. Run if you have to. The rewards of waiting are incalculable.

Ruth the hopeful widow (see Ruth 1:1—16; 2:11—18)

You are lonely, lovely and looking—but don't push it. Ruth, widowed early in life, could easily have pressed the panic button, ending up with a "Bozo" instead of Boaz. Ruth's story of romance and intrigue is an awesome example of God's ability "…To comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve … to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair…" (Isaiah 61:2,3).

No, there may not be a Boaz for every widow. But there is sufficient grace (see 2 Corinthians 12:9). On the other hand, if "Mr. Right" were out there, Ruth's advice would be, Hang in there. Don't panic. God gives the very best to those who leave the choice to Him. You are far better off single, than married in haste into a life of painful incompatibility.

Elijah, the hero of Mt. Carmel (see 1 Kings 18)

How in the world do you get inducted into God's Hall of Fame? Emulating Elijah could be one way—but of course he was exceptional. Or was he? James tips us off: "Elijah was a man just like us" (James 5:17).

Heaven's help is not reserved for angelic hosts.

So, what elicited the "Hero badge" for this single sentry of long ago? It seems his solitary situation lent itself to a life of intercession to the point, "…It did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed and the heavens

gave rain" (James 5:17,18).

Now, who is to say a married fellow can't pray? Of course he can—and should. But it seems the single lifestyle of Elijah was especially conducive to conquering Carmel, staring down Ahab, mocking the prophets of Baal, soaking his sacrifice and running to Jezreel. It just seems this particular mandate from God made more sense for a sense for a single. The principle can still apply.

Elijah's lesson: Hold on to God's promises. Heaven's help is not reserved for angelic hosts. Singles can be good candidates for God's hall of fame. Just watch out for Jezebel!

Daniel, the head of state (see Daniel 2:48)

Whether a political prisoner, a palace prelate, or palling with lions, Daniel purposed to honor God in every situation. The circumstances were right for capitulating to the coercion of foreign captors. But early indoctrination had equipped him with an iron will to maintain purity of body, mind and spirit. From this uncontaminated vessel came the decoding of dreams, direction for the king and design for the future. While Daniel's celibacy is not proven, his story matches that of a single—celebrating God, certain of the future and set apart for significant leadership and influence.

Daniel's admonition: Honour God in all you do and He will promote your cause. (Just don't push your luck with those lions).

Now for some New Testament counterparts..

Paul, the herald of Good News (see 1 Corinthians 15:11)

Outside of Jesus, no one had a greater impact on the promotion and progress of the Church than Paul the Apostle. What a testimony. A savage persecutor of the Church, saved on the road to Damascus, set apart for the defense and declaration of the Gospel, sent forth to the regions beyond, ship-wrecked, smitten for his faith, imprisoned and beheaded—all for the love of Christ.

Paul was not anti-marriage, but he had strong feelings when it came to who was best suited for a life of reckless abandonment to the cause of world evangelism. He writes:

"I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—and his interests are divided" (1 Corinthians 10:32—34).

…singles sold out to God make a vital contribution to every aspect of the work of God…

While the celibate lifestyle is not imposed for the candidate in radical discipleship, Paul points out its advantages. For some, it may be temporary. For others, it is a life's calling. We observe singles sold out to God make a vital contribution to every aspect of the work of God—often with greater time and financial resources than those who are married. Whether single by choice or circumstance, make
the best of this opportunity to perform at your peak for God.
Paul's parting reminder could well be, Having a partner may not be God's highest calling for some. Celebrate your singleness with radical discipleship.

John the Baptist—the Hippy preacher (see Matthew 3:1—8)

If we think Paul was slightly eccentric in his religious fervor, try John the Baptist. Camel skins, locusts, wild honey—repent or perish style of preaching. Quite the colorful character. Again, it is apparent marriage would not have accommodated John's career.

So extraordinary was John's mandate, he didn't survive. While in prison he literally "talked his head off" by telling it like it is. He called sin, sin—picketed Herod's "porn" party and paid for his convictions with his life.

John's personal testimony, "He must become greater; I must become less," (John 3:30). What a homecoming he must have had!

Mary Magdalene—the harlot turned helper (see Luke 8:1—4)

Sometimes a person's past haunts them to the point of helplessness—even when they want change. Many who leave a sinful lifestyle find themselves frustrated by the legalistic looks and pious protectionism of the ecclesiastical establishment. But Jesus was not like that. He saw beyond the life of lust and "lostness" and not only restored, but reserved special places of ministry for them. It was Mary's devotion to Jesus that took her to the tomb that first Easter morning. She was first to recognize the resurrected Christ and first to announce the greatest event in all history—"Jesus is alive!"

Mary's word to you: There is healing, help and fulfilling service for anyone—regardless of the past.

Lydia—the householder/career gal (see Acts 16:13—15)

Historians suspect Lydia was a widow who took over the family textile business as well as managed the home after the loss of her husband. She could have been the administrator and CEO of the company all along. Even two thousand years ago, it was recognized that careers and management were not the exclusive turf of men. Lydia was in an excellent position to be a vital contributor to God's cause.

Her gifts of leadership and hospitality played an important part in establishing the work of God in Thyatira. She was not simply a substitute for a many who didn't show. She was handpicked by God to facilitate the cause of Christ in her community. Lydia would want you to know, Hospitality and leadership skills are in no way diminished in the hands of a single woman.

The woman at the well—how many husbands? (John 4)

Divorced. Not once, but five times! That was enough to exclude anyone from the mainstream of Samaritan society—let alone the presence of Christ. Few human tragedies precipitate more suffering and long-term repercussions than divorce. Not only are the principle individuals scarred, but also the effect upon children and family members is horrendous. Those who have been there say it is worse than death.

God hates divorce, but He loves the divorcee.

Multiply these gruesome graphics by five—plus a new live-in partner, and you have the profile of our friend at the fountain of Sychar. Enter Jesus, pure and holy. He took the time to commiserate about the quality of water in Jacob's

well, and in the process broke down social,moral and religious barriers to reach this hurting lady.

One of the most painful perceptions for the divorcee is rejection by the religious establishment. Yes, God hates divorce, but He loves the divorcee. Our sister at Sychar not only received living water to quench her spiritual thirst, but she found a friend who released her to tell of her new found freedom. She became the evangel to a waiting multitude—deemed disinterested and unresponsive to the Gospel by the disciples.

To the divorced, the woman at the well would say, Have a drink of living water! Let the love of Christ bring healing to your hopeless state.

He will let you live again. Find peace and fulfillment in presenting His cause, and pursuing righteousness. May the examples of these single saints set you free to celebrate your situation. Singles are somebody! One is a whole number. You are treasured by God and can be fine-tuned for specialized service in His kingdom.

Rev. Robert Tauber is ordained with the Apostolic Church of Pentecost of Canada. He and his wife Jan make their home in Saskatoon.

Originally published in the Four Square Advance, May/June 1995.

 

 
 
 
 

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