Tuesday, November 12, 2019
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Cultivating Selflessness In Singleness

CC Photo Courtesy of John Nakamura Remy via Flickr
CC Photo Courtesy of John Nakamura Remy via Flickr

Life as a single is, well, busy.

It seems to be a never-ending flow of work, study, friends, trying to stay active in some form or fashion, church, God’s good gift of sleep and the occasional blessing of a nap.

In all honesty, I love this part of it. Being able to get up and go whenever I want or need to is amazing. Yet, I find that it’s still hard to find meaningful depth in all of this.

I wonder how the transition into marriage will work, when I have to lay these things down for the good of the relationship and my spouse.

I’ve known this for a while, but as I’ve been reading Tim Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God, I’ve realized that much of the preparation for marriage comes down to preparation for selflessness. It’s becoming clearer that if I have any hope of being selfless in marriage, I have to start being selfless now. Or more selfless, whichever is most accurate.

 Now, many people define selflessness as simply doing things for other people. That’s definitely part of it, but I think it goes even deeper.

I think being selfless is really not being self-absorbed.

It’s being other-focused, and being willing to lay down what you hold important for the sake of another.

It’s combating the inborn idolatry of our hearts and putting Christ and His kingdom first.

It’s making time to observe the Sabbath, and leaving room for rest and time to invest in other people, even if we don’t get the return we want or expect.

In the end, it’s about letting go of anxiety and trusting God, so that we can stop looking out for ourselves, and everything will still be okay in His hands.

This is why I think the story of the Rich Young Ruler in Luke 18:18-30 is so applicable to many of us today. He had amassed massive wealth for his time (which I’ve heard is much less than the average American …) and when he asked Jesus what he had to do to be saved, he chose to keep his possessions, his temporal security, and walk toward eternal damnation instead. The apostle Paul sheds some light on this when he tells Timothy that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10, ESV). It’s a root, not the root. It’s placing life’s security in the things of this world. It’s trusting in something other than Christ to save us. It’s thinking that if we aren’t out for ourselves, He won’t protect or provide for us. First and foremost, it’s idolatry.

Being selfless doesn’t have to be a big thing, either.

It is most often small things. I learned this lesson the hard way a few months ago. Ironically, I learned it through writing about making much of Jesus while wanting the blog stats to be all about me. (And all the bloggers said #buuuurrrn) A few weeks of solid traction and I was consumed with checking blog stats and comments and Twitter. The idols of my heart set up shop before I even realized they were there. After I stopped writing for a couple of months to get my head and heart right, I realized that I needed to create space to trust God. So, now I run my own blog posts Monday–Thursday, and then Friday and Saturday are open for promoting other bloggers’ work. Sure, my blog is still generating traffic because I’m sending out tweets about a video I found to be thought-provoking or because I’m sharing some must-read blogs for the week, but my heart is different. It’s bent outward, wishing that people would read the blogs that I’ve shared, for their benefit as well as to support the bloggers who wrote pieces I thought to be beneficial.

I don’t want to pretend that selflessness comes easy.

It takes work. It takes faith. It takes focusing on Christ and the gospel. It takes realizing that the call to salvation is the call to the ultimate sabbath: the call to stop trying to earn our status with God and rest in Him, trusting that we’ll be okay in His hands. It takes heart work, to be sure. But maybe it doesn’t start with the biggest step that comes to mind. Maybe it starts with baby steps. Maybe it starts with asking God for help.

Maybe preparation for marriage—for selflessness—starts with prayer and worship and confessing that we’re not the center of the universe.

How can you cultivate selflessness in your life?

About the author

Don Sartain started blogging about life, Theology and Christian thinking in 2010. He’s single for God’s glory and his good (at least that’s what he keeps telling himself). He has several solid guy friends who love him well and aren’t afraid to speak truth into his life, especially when he doesn’t want to hear it, and he is friends with a few girls who fill that role, too, for whom he is incredibly grateful. He blogs regularly at www.transformingwords.org. @tranformwords.
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