About ten years ago I was having lunch with a friend who was 24 and had been married about two years. We were meeting for work but we ended up talking about life. At one point my young friend (who I was supposed to be mentoring but who was about to mentor me) asked, “Justin why do you think you are still single?”
I sat for a minute trying to come up with something wise to say. Then I said something like, “I don’t know exactly. Maybe God still has stuff for me to learn first.” I sat back satisfied with my “Godly” answer.
He responded, “How come I didn’t have to learn any of that stuff first?”
Bam! I was in trouble. In one sentence he had just taken out my religious answer. I mean he was right. He was a mature 24 year old but did he know more than me at 22 when he got married? What was it exactly that I needed to master first before I was “studied up enough” for God to go ahead and grant me a spouse? Yikes.
This is one of the subtle things that can sneak into our minds. This idea that if God is waiting for us to get something so that we are now “ready” to be married. Even typing that seems ridiculous now but in the back of my mind I’ve spent a lot of time there. Especially in my 20’s. This is dangerous on so many levels. It can lead to earning God’s favor which takes out grace. It can lead to bitterness towards others, “How come God gave that heathen a spouse when I’ve been over here trying to stay pure and do it right?” It can lead to following God’s plan in an effort to earn a gift from him instead of simply to follow Him. And, because of that, when we get tired of trying to earn it, it can lead to sin, especially sexually, because obviously God is not delivering on my hard work of staying pure.
No where does God say that a spouse is earned. In fact all through history, including in scripture (e.g. just about everyone in the Old Testament) you could make the case that horrible people get married all the time. A spouse is a gift, not a prize. If your motivation to please God is so He will give you a spouse you’re in trouble.
Now it is sure fair to ask God, “Are you teaching me something here?” or, “Is there something I’m doing that is preventing me from having a spouse?” But the idea that I’m going to earn one is bad news. Any married guy can tell you, they don’t deserve their spouse.
Where has this idea of earning a spouse crept into your thought process?
Where are you bargaining with God by following certain rules with the hope of a payoff?