Real Solutions for Real Life
- Friday, September 12, 2003
The book from which these columns are drawn seeks to apply the truth and the heart of Scripture to the single life in a way that is practical, but not simplistic. Much of today's popular advice to singles is both simplistic and ineffective. It basically tells people just to cope with singleness as cheerfully as possible.
And coping can seem like an answer to a lot of problems. Coping techniques come in many forms, such as throwing ourselves into careers, or going from one relationship to another looking for Mister/Miss Right. One more example: If your best time is spent in front of the TV or PC, you are probably coping. Coping, you see, is anything we do to pass the time while we wait for life to "really begin."
But there are big problems with coping. A man once told me, "If the only tool you have in your tool box is a hammer, all your problems will look like nails." Coping can be that kind of tool.
Like a hammer, coping is convenient and requires little training to use. My hammer may help unstick a door, but it won't do a very good job fixing the hard drive on my computer. In fact, I've realized that when I get my hammer out to solve a problem, it's probably because I'm out of real solutions. It's the same with coping. It's reactive, not creative. It just doesn't deal with the issues of life in useful ways.
Coping won't do. Neither will fantasy, avoidance, nostalgia, diversion, or any other of a host of "one size fits all" tools we might find stashed in the bottom of our life-management tool boxes. We need better tools-solid, versatile, and fit for use by everyone from the novice to the craftsman. The Rich Single Life attempts to provide some of those tools.
The idea of "richness" in the title of the book has to do with substance, a weight and permanence to life that is not devalued by cultural or personal fluctuations. It has to do with abundance, an overflow that elevates life above the poverty of weakness and loss. It has to do with wherewithal, or purchasing power. The rich single life is not inconsequential; it registers in the marketplace of human existence. It is the precise opposite of coping.
The rich single life is one of investment and return. It requires active wisdom and wise activity to maintain and develop. But as Jesus promises in numerous parables, those who make the right investment will do much more than merely survive. If we plant well, we will harvest. If we manage well, we will be rewarded. If we invest well, we will prosper. This vision is for all believers; it is applied in the book for single people in particular.
An Investment Strategy for the Rich Single Life
To take this analogy one step further, let's assert that the "investment goal" for the single adult is to get rich, in the best sense of the word. In order to achieve our investment goal we need a "vehicle" (banking terminology for things such as CDs, stocks, mutual funds, and the like). The spiritual "investment vehicle" for the single adult is what Paul set out in 1Corinthians 7:35-Undivided Devotion to the Lord. It is a high-risk (in a worldly sense), high-yield tool backed by the eternal decrees and purposes of God himself.
The only thing lacking then is strategy-ways to manage and invest this vehicle of Undivided Devotion for the best possible return. I would like to submit the following mix of investment strategies for your consideration. Each of these eight strategies corresponds to the theme of one of the eight remaining chapters in the book. The strategies are biblically sound and can provide the right mix of short-term protection and long-term growth for any single person's spiritual portfolio.
Chapter Two, "Rich in Identity": The rich single life gains identity from recognizing the extent to which God has gone to fill the gap between who we are and what we can be.
Chapter Three, "Rich in Vision": The rich single life mines the essence of our identity and season of life for the hidden treasures of opportunity.
Chapter Four, "Rich in Wisdom": The rich single life develops a faith that roots below the topsoil of culture and circumstance, yielding the fruit of good decisions and a hunger to obey God.
Chapter Five, "Rich in Impact": The rich single life resonates with the impact of a whole-hearted devotion to God and his agenda for our lives.
Chapter Six, "Rich in Relationships, I": The rich single life exhibits a love for others that produces meaningful friendships radiating the deep glow of fellowship.
Chapter Seven, "Rich in Relationships, II": The rich single life is prepared and willing to pursue a relationship toward marriage in submission to God's timing, wisdom, and Word.
Chapter Eight, "Rich Toward Marriage": The rich single life embraces a biblical vision for marriage with sober but faith-filled anticipation.
Chapter Nine, "Rich in Hope": The rich single life confronts the universal challenge of loneliness with biblical hope.
Before we proceed, let's keep in mind this sound perspective from Randy Alcorn: "Let me assume the role of 'eternal financial counselor' and offer this advice: choose your investments carefully; compare their rates of interest; consider their ultimate trustworthiness; and especially compare how they will be working for you a few million years from now" (from Money, Possessions, and Eternity, Tyndale House, 1989).
The remaining columns reproduced here at Crosswalk.com will cover chapters 2, 3, and 5. After reading four complete chapters from the book, you'll certainly know whether you'd like to pick up a copy and read the other five chapters and the two appendices. If you decide not to, that's fine-I just hope you will have found something in these columns to encourage and assist you in your walk with the Savior.
Next week, we'll begin to read chapter two, "Rich in Identity."
The Rich Single Life by Andrew Farmer "The truths contained in The Rich Single Life could revolutionize your understanding of singleness. Andrew Farmer skillfully shows single Christian men and women what a rich and valuable opportunity they have. Just as importantly, he explains how to take full advantage of that opportunity. This book will help you live the single life in all the fullness of God." -Joshua Harris, author and pastor. Available from the Sovereign Grace Store. Read a sample chapter on the Sovereign Grace website.
Singled Out for Him by Nancy Leigh DeMoss In this booklet and audio series, Nancy DeMoss says, "We are a part of an incredible family of faith. And that family includes far more than just other singles! You and I are called to function within the broader context of the family of God. In His infinite wisdom, God selected precisely the combination of individuals whose strengths and weaknesses He knew would help shape us into the men and women He made us to be. We cannot selfishly cut ourselves off from our families without forfeiting a measure of God's intended blessing and fullness." An excellent resource for single women from FamilyLife Ministries.
Excerpted from The Rich Single Life: Abundance, Opportunity, and Purpose in God
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Andrew Farmer is a pastor at Covenant Fellowship Church in Philadelphia, PA, where he has been on staff since January 1993. His primary responsibilities include pastoring the single adults and overseeing the music and worship ministry of the church. His educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from St. Andrews' Presbyterian College received in May 1981. Andy is currently enrolled in Westminster Seminary.
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