I’m not saying that if you learn these 5 things then God will instantly reveal the one to you. There are plenty of real-life examples of God putting two Christians together in marriage before they learned these valuable lessons. But because they did not learn these lessons their relationship will be harder and less enjoyable than it needed to be.
So what I am saying in this article is that you need to learn these 5 things before the time comes when God reveals the one, otherwise your relationship will suffer because you did not learn these things. Every relationship will have trials and hardships in it no matter how much we prepare in singleness, but if you learn these 5 things in singleness before you meet the one, you will be positioning yourself well for a blessed relationship.
1. Before You Meet The One, You Must Learn That Everything Good Is Ultimately Because of God’s Grace
Without learning this you will be living out of a works mentality. Not only will this negatively affect every area of your life – most importantly your relationship with God – but a works mentality will also negatively affect your relationship with the person God will put with you in marriage one day.
To be a Christian you must fully depend on God’s grace alone for salvation, but oftentimes we leave “God’s grace” behind as the gateway into Christianity and then start living from a work’s mentality going forward. I know what people mean when they say that Christianity is a second chance, but in reality that is not the most biblically accurate way to describe God’s grace. A “second chance” implies that Christianity is simply a “do over” where we now get another chance to live perfectly without making mistakes like we failed to do the first time. Christianity is not a second chance. Christianity is a sure thing. If you are saved by God’s grace you don’t need any more chances. Jesus saved you once and for all. It is finished. As Galatians 1:6-7 explains:
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.”
These same truths now must apply to all aspects of our lives because we will never be deserving of anything good without God’s grace. But through God’s grace not only are we made right in his eyes through Jesus, we are also empowered to live in a better way where we are then equipped to handle the blessings God desires to give us.
The same is true when it comes to meeting the one God has for you. If you think you can earn the blessing of a godly marriage, you will live in fear. You will live religiously in your relationships. And you will always doubt the good gifts God is sending because deep down you will know you don’t deserve them. But when you know that everything is a gift of grace, you will be able to receive his blessings gladly and you will be able to live free in Christ. As James 1:16-17 states:
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
2. Before You Meet The One, You Must Learn What “The One” Actually Means and Does Not Mean from a Biblical Perspective
I’ve talked about this at length in my article called “What Does The Bible Say About The One?” But it’s wise to quickly review it here because if you have an unbiblical view of what “the one” actually means, you may actually be hurting your future relationship with the one by imagining them to be something they can never be for you.
When I use the phrase “the one,” I’m not referring to a “soul mate” in the historical use of that term and I’m not referring to “the perfect one” as though there is one person you will have no issues with if you can just find them. I also don’t mean that God will never allow someone to be married twice because it’s clear it is biblical in some instances for remarriage, for example with widows (1 Corinthians 7:39). Many of you have asked me about remarriage after divorce. That is a more complicated subject with varying views among Christians. I’ve explained my views on that subject in my article called “What Does the Bible Say About Divorce and Remarriage?”
There’s many other things I don’t mean when I use this phrase “the one,” but for the sake of time let’s just define what I do mean. When I use the phrase “the one,” all I mean is the person God has planned for you to marry. I’m a firm believer in God’s sovereign reign over everything that happens (Ephesians 1:11). While almost all Christians also say they believe in God’s sovereignty, many somehow detach the biblical truths about God’s sovereignty from relationships. Theologically many believe everything is under God’s control, but practically they segment certain parts of their lives and believe some things are solely under their own control – like relationships for example.
Perhaps the best biblical example of my definition of the one can be found in Genesis 24:14. Abraham’s servant was sent to find a wife for his son Isaac. He then prays to God, “Let the young woman to whom I shall say, ‘Please let down your jar that I may drink,’ and who shall say, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels’—let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac.”
Notice it says “let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac.” Here we have the phrase “the one” followed by a reference to God’s sovereignty in choosing Isaac’s wife, Rebekah.
Invariably this conversation about “the one” always boils down to a bigger conversation about God’s sovereignty and man’s free will. But for the sake of time, I’ll just leave this subject here for now. If you want to dive deeper into this topic about “the one”, you may enjoy my book called The One: How to Know and Trust God’s Sovereign Plan for Your Future Marriage.
3. Before You Meet The One, You Must Learn to Say, “I Am Sorry”
I would agree that the three most important words for any healthy relationship is “I love you.” But a close second may very well be the three words “I am sorry.”
Perhaps one of the craziest things about sin is how quickly it can blind us in ways that lead us to hurt the very people we love the most. A little hunger, a little lack of sleep, and little unthoughtful word from your spouse can combine to cause a normally very sane person to lash out in really hurtful ways. It really doesn’t take much to shock yourself with how rude you can be to someone you love so much.
While this type of thing is normal, meaning it happens often in relationships, we must never think it is acceptable. We must also never “just let it go” when we were the ones who sinned against our spouse. We have to make it a habit to quickly ask for forgiveness when we know we were wrong. Even if your spouse was wrong too, you will be creating an environment of lasting love if you can learn to have the humility to ask for forgiveness as soon as you are convicted by the Holy Spirit.
This is something that takes time and humility to develop. If you are cold hearted and unwilling to repent when you are single, this won’t magically change once you get married. If you don’t learn to acknowledge your sin and ask for forgiveness now, this will come back to bite you in your future marriage. It will create an atmosphere of bitterness in your future. As Hebrews 12:14-15 states:
Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no ‘root of bitterness’ springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled . . .”
Don’t let your future marriage “become defiled.” Learn to say “I am sorry” now so you will know how to make things right in marriage one day when you make mistakes.
4. Before You Meet The One, You Must Learn to Say, “I Forgive You”
Saying “I am sorry” requires lots of humility, but many times it’s easier than saying “I forgive you” because being forgiven feels amazing. Offering forgiveness, however, requires sacrificial love. In the end, offering forgiveness is also paramount for your own freedom because unforgiveness keeps you enslaved to bitterness and to the offenses done to you.
But just like asking for forgiveness is something you really need to learn, so too is offering forgiveness. You have to learn that offering forgiveness is not admitting the offense was not that bad. It’s not sweeping the wrongs under the rug. Forgiveness is not even forgetting. Rather, forgiveness is the first step towards reconciliation, which is where the relationship is restored to what it was before the offense took place. Forgiveness is when you release the person of the debts they rightfully owe you because of what they’ve done so that you two can have a right relationship again.
Again, “the one” will not be “your perfect one.” They will be a flawed person like you who says and does hurtful things at times. But if you want to be able to love each other like God has called you to, then you must learn to say “I forgive you.”
When you really think about marriage in the context of what it says in Ephesians 5:21-33, which is where it explains that marriage is supposed to reflect Christ and the church, then it should not be a big surprise to see this need for forgiveness. Our relationship with Christ is not one where we never sin and there are no issues. Christ loves his church by forgiving us and being reconciled to us whenever we repent.
If your future marriage is truly to reflect Christ and the church, you and your future spouse will be offering grace to each other very often because Christ is constantly offering grace to us.
5. Before You Meet The One, You Must Learn to Offer Love and Respect By the Supernatural Power of the Holy Spirit
Going back to that famous passage in Ephesians 5:21-33 which is all about how a husband and wife are to reflect Christ and his church, two words that pop up are love and respect. While many focus on husbands doing the loving and wives doing the respecting, in a greater sense it’s clear both the husband and wife are called to love and respect each other.
A husband and wife often have different love languages, meaning how the other person expresses their love and respect should be tailored to their spouse’s needs; nonetheless, without love and respect your future marriage will be unhealthy.
Learning to offer love and respect is not something you should wait to do once you get married. You can practice this now with your friends, family, and other people in your life. If you start learning to express your love and respect even before you meet the one God has for you, you will be so glad you did because you will reap the benefits one day in your future marriage.
– Mark Ballenger