Individuality.

Individuality can be a good thing. And being American individuals, we put a premium on being equal. For those of us who claim Christ’s promises for every area of life, we’re taught that God does not discriminate between cultures or income levels. In His sovereignty and providence, God bestows His mercy and grace to each of us regardless of our marital status, occupation, or nationality.

Living in a capitalist economy, competition is part of our cultural DNA, just as equality is part of our patriotic DNA. This means, ironically, that equity and rivalry coexist in a curious balance. With capitalism, after all, everybody can’t be financial equals. If we were, we’d have socialism instead.

As believers in Christ, we’re taught that, just as our human bodies are comprised of many parts, God blesses each of us with different skill sets and opportunities to serve and honor Him. This means that, contrary to how we work and produce income as Americans, no brother or sister in Christ is a rival of anyone else in His body.

Easy to forget, isn’t it?

When we do, we tend to develop the mindset that, for example, married people have received a greater degree of blessing, or that God has answered their prayers more generously than He’s answered ours. We inadvertently impose a false characteristic on both God and ourselves, whether we’re married or single.

Obviously, marriage is good, and symbolizes the relationship between Christ and His bride, the Church. Aspiring to marriage is a normal part of life, and more people get married than remain single their entire lives. Yet, as we traverse the paths along which God leads each of us in our individual faith walks, we’re tempted to compete for God’s blessings. Even when none of God’s good gifts are awarded to us based on whether we win, place, or show!

How can we compete against each other, when everything God bestows upon us is the result of His perfect mercy and grace, not our own efforts? Competition in commerce can benefit a society, but competition among people who are supposed to all be on the same side can backfire.

Might your view of how God has provided a spouse to other people – but not you – be backfiring?

Sure, theoretically, we know believers who are married aren’t any more Godly – or even less holy – than believers who aren’t. In fact, the only time God bestowed holy favor on a mortal was when He selected the virgin Mary to bear His Son – and you know what? Mary was unmarried at the time!

Nevertheless, how often do we single believers find ourselves competing, both against other singles, and our saved married friends, pegging contentment and perceived progress in our lives against how we see God providing for others? We feel sorry for ourselves, and even develop negative attitudes towards others. Have you ever heard of “schadenfreude?” It’s the practice of finding satisfaction in somebody else’s failure. Sometimes, don’t we allow schadenfreude to color our view of marriages that end, or of other peoples’ dates that end badly? Do we tend to assume bad events always represent some form of punishment?

What might such perspectives say about our understanding of God's perfect providence? After all, plenty of unsaved people enjoy rewarding marriage relationships, and we’re going to figure that God must love them more than He loves us?

This isn’t just about marriage, is it? It’s about how we see anything around us that we’d like to have, but for a variety of reasons, we don’t. Marriage simply embodies one of our more logical desires that we assume God should fulfill since it’s so much more worthy, good, and beneficial than a lot of other more superficial and materialistic things.