By Patrice Burrell, Crosswalk.com
The single most important relationship of our entire human existence is our relationship with God. We get to spend our lifespan on Earth preparing for eternity in heaven. Singles have been given a special gift because we have the privilege of devoting ourselves exclusively to honoring God. One of the ways we honor Him is through an abiding, growing faith.
John 15:1-4 (NKJV) expresses the importance of abiding and bearing fruit: “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”
When we abide in Jesus, we can’t help but produce godly fruit. Fruit is evidence of growth. As with the natural act of gardening, there is also a process involved in producing spiritual fruit. After seeds are sown in a garden, that garden must be tended. In order to yield fruit, the condition of the soil must be fertile, the ground must be watered, and the gardener must keep a watchful eye out for anything that could threaten or stifle the growth of its crops.
As we tend to the garden of our life, we must never stop growing in our faith. Our faith in God provides the framework for how we live our life - day in and day out. When singles are committed to remaining in an abiding relationship with Jesus, we can experience growth in our faith through five unique practices.
1. Cultivate Private Devotion to God
Clinging to an intimate and authentic relationship with God is at the heart of cultivating our devotion to God. In order to grow in our faith, we have to invest effort and energy in getting to know God. Being intimately acquainted with Him happens when we read the Bible, pray, and practice other spiritual disciplines. Our devotion is never motivated by what we can gain from God. Instead, we devote ourselves to God because He first loved us, and in response to His love, we also love Him in return.
The more we spend time with God, the more we will learn about His character, nature, and attributes. Doing this consistently makes it impossible not to grow and bear spiritual fruit. Our growth manifests in what Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV) refers to as the fruit of the Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” When we demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, we can rejoice that we are growing in our faith.
2. Accepting Mentorship
We grow in our faith by accepting and becoming godly mentors. In some aspects, it may be necessary for us to be the mentee, and in other seasons of our life, we may become a mentor. There may even be times we find ourselves functioning in both roles, but in different capacities, as it pertains to growing in our faith.
I am reminded of Paul and Timothy in the New Testament. Their relationship is a beautiful example of a mentee-mentor relationship modeled positively and healthily. Paul admonishes Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:13-14 (NKJV), “Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.” Paul endears Timothy as a son in the Gospel. Timothy is receptive to Paul’s voice of wisdom, speaking encouragement into his life. As a result, Timothy experiences growth in his personal faith relationship with God.
Have you ever heard the expression, “More things are caught than taught?” I believe it is true when we consider the context of discipleship and mentorship. When we walk alongside excellent mentors (not perfect), we can observe their relationship with God up close and personal. As we observe their lifestyle, we learn first-hand, real-life applications to utilize in our own growing relationship with our Heavenly Father.
3. Welcome Accountability
Singles may be tempted to omit accountability as a necessary element for growth in our faith. It is easy to feel that we do not have to answer to anyone because we do not have a spouse. The truth is, we all need to be held accountable to someone so that we can continue to grow in our relationship with the Lord. No person is an island, and living an abundant life in Christ does not happen in isolation from others. In fact, Proverbs 24:6 (NIV) affirms, “Surely you need guidance to wage war, and victory is won through many advisers.” If we want to fight the good fight of faith (as coined by Paul in 1 Timothy 6:12), then we must be open to seeking accountability with people God places in our path for such purposes. These are the people who are qualified and authorized to hold us responsible in our spiritual growth and development. We want the right people speaking into our lives and building our faith.
Accountability can look like having an accountability partner, being in fellowship with a local body of believers, connecting with a small group community, and even pastoral counseling accountability. Each can support our desire to maintain consistent growth in our personal relationship with God. It may also look like a combination of these resources, which is perfectly okay. Having a safe space to discuss our strengths and struggles helps us to flourish along our faith journey.
4. Invest in Opportunities to Grow
Growth often occurs when we encounter special opportunities. We experience growth through the people we interact with, the media (books, podcasts, etc.) we engage with, and even the places we go. When we embrace God’s gift of singleness, it is like a whole new world opens to explore endless possibilities.
Look for opportunities that will spur your faith. 2 Peter 3:18 (NLT) tells us, “Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ...” When was the last time you attended a retreat or conference for the purpose of enhancing your spiritual growth? There are so many options to explore, so have fun! Enjoy the flexibility of living single – take trips, visit unique locations or anything else the Holy Spirit leads you to as inspiration in your faith walk.
5. Be Willing to Change
One of the ways we embrace growth is by embracing change. Life is always in motion. We are ever-evolving, imperfect humans. Change is constant and inevitable. It is not something to fear, reject, or deny. When we can accept changes around us and within us, we will recognize how God often uses them as opportunities for us to grow closer to Him.
I want us to challenge ourselves never to stop growing. Life changes do not have to halt our passion for pursuing a loving relationship with our Creator. It may be that we must make adjustments along the way. Maybe circumstances will impose this adjustment, and other times perhaps the Holy Spirit will invite us to change.
Let us be willing to change the way we respond to God, engage with God, or adjust our pace to match a new grace rhythm God is calling us to in a different stage of life. Whatever changes we incur, we can rest assured that God remains the same. He is always faithful. He is always loving. He is always our beloved Father. As we abide in the vine, we can face any changing, shifting moments in this life and beyond because we know our faith is anchored in Him.
Patrice Burrell is an author, life coach, and worship leader who loves practicing the presence of God through a lifestyle anchored in spiritual disciplines. Championing women to live authentically and pursue God passionately, she is called to lead others to the grace of God, rooted in the truth of Scripture. As a Bible teacher and preacher, she exhorts women to remember their true identity is defined in Christ, not culture. When not serving at her local church with the small groups and singles' ministries, Patrice enjoys visiting local Orlando attractions, going to the beach, and finding unique ways to explore her writing creativity. You can connect with Patrice on her blog,Warrior Woman Blog, on social media in her Facebook community,Warrior Women, and @patriceburrellministries on Facebook and Instagram. You can also check out her debut book, Warrior Slay, a devotional book on the power of worship and prayer. https://linktr.ee/