Am I Single Because I Stink?
by Linden Wolfe
After being with his blind date all evening, the man couldn't take another
minute with her. Earlier, he had secretly arranged to have a friend call him to
the phone so he would have an excuse to leave if something like this happened.
Does this sound familiar? It does to me. You see, I am single. I have been for a long time. Although I do not consider this to be a curse, I do see it as somewhat of an abnormality since one of God’s first degrees (and the first negative one) was, "It is not good that man should be alone (Genesis 2:18).
For clarification, Paul’s clear inference in I Corinthians 7 is that single Christians are not less of a Christ follower than their married counterparts. As a matter of fact, he clearly states that singleness provides us freedoms and opportunities to serve Him in less encumbered ways. Therein lays a great truth to be grasped and applied: While single we should embrace what it offers us in Christ. We have a beautiful situation to image forth Jesus through service and ministry that the married don’t always have the time for. That’s great news if we integrate this principle into our single lives and pursue the most meaningful of relationships – the one with our sweet Lord.
Does this mean that I do not yearn for earthly companionship? Absolutely not! I do long for a "soul-mate" and sometimes that void is painful and lonely. Where I get tangled up is the priority of my pursuing. When I attempt to orchestrate an earthly partnership first, as opposed to deep and rich fellowship with God, I find that my efforts are a complete failure (What’s new?). And in that process, I loose the vital worship of our most excellent and worthy King. I cease treasuring Him above all things. When that happens, I start to stink.
Ephesians 5:1-2 says, "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God". When I digest this passage I know why I stink. My life is not a sweet fragrance in the nostrils of our majestic Lord. Although externally I may have adorned myself in such a way to attract others, internally I have not fallen obediently (an imitator), humbly (as a child), adoringly (a life of love) and sacrificially (He gave himself up) in love with Jesus. My nature does not exude a beautiful and attractive aroma because I am not smitten with Him. I do not have the affection stimulating and desperate need for His presence and grace. I am not worshipping Him. I am not seeking His glory. This is why I stink.
In our society and Christian culture we do much externally to attract God’s life partner for us. We work out, primp (including deodorant), we parade and we speak properly (sometimes even saying spiritual kinds of things) but so often it stinks and does not attract others. Why? Is it because we lack the internal beauty and fragrance of being enamored with Jesus? I believe that His beauty in us is distorted or hidden in our self –gratifying chase to find a meaningful relationship outside of Him. It’s not that we can’t have both. We can and He often wants that for us. But our first priority must be falling more in love with Him. At that point we become lovelier and less pungent. Loving Jesus and all that entails is what is truly attractive. Furthermore, that significantly increases the potential of attracting someone whose life is also a sweet smelling offering to God. For I am convinced that that my potential life partner will not be satisfied with me until I am most satisfied with God!
The Bible has love stories. Isn’t that great? Let’s see this principle at work in two of them – the stories of Rebekah and Ruth. Neither was seeking a mate but they were serving. Instead they were focused on carrying out their duties before God. They were showing humble and self-denying service to others. One was a teenager drawing necessary water at a well and the other gleaning from the fields for the survival of her family. Neither were "dolled up" - wearing their most titillating outfit and pumps, hair recently re-styled to match up with the current fashion or makeup freshened. They were probably shabbily attired and perspiring (women perspire whereas men sweat). But, emanating from them was a sweet fragrance. The men God had intended for them (Isaac and Boaz) were entranced by their aroma – the beautiful smell of God found in their humble state of sacrifice. These were truly "matches made in heaven".
So what does this mean for us? We do well to pursue God singularly with all of our adoration and desires. We need to be desperate for Him. In that we will have an indescribable joy. We are satisfied with Him and His peace is apparent. We take on a self-denying journey of faith being saturated with His presence. The image of Jesus becomes evident in us through the power of His Holy Sprit. We find our worth completely in His worth. We seek His glory as our only purpose and thankful response to His grace. And how could this kind of person NOT be attractive?
So what about marriage and that life partner that God stated was a part of His plan for humanity and good? I believe that if my life reflects the servant heart and the sweet smelling aroma of Rebekah and Ruth and demonstrates a passion for Jesus that creates a compelling fragrance, then my God-ordained partner may be just around the corner. I may not see her because I’m so enraptured with Jesus but He will. And He will point her out to me. If He so wills. And if not, then I have Him. Forever! And who should really ask for more than that?