Before making a list of qualifications for the perfect future spouse, make sure that she or he is what God wants for you. When you marry the spouse that God wants for you, you would have gotten the best for you. You can be sure of one thing – God wants you first and foremost to marry a godly man or woman. That is why the apostle Paul says (in 2 Cor. 6:14), “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?”
The Bible is clear that a husband and a wife must be knitted together in unity. You can only really knit together things that are of the same nature. You could never knit wool with cotton, it would wreck the garment. “Can two walk together unless they agree?” – Amos 3:3.
When you try to put two people together, so that they become one, it is impossible without the power of God and the grace of God and the power of God’s Holy Spirit. It’s only by the power of God that two distinct personalities, two sets of likes and dislikes, two sets of emotions, two sets of characters, two sets of temperament, and two sets of wills can be made one. I was captivated the first time I came across the following quote:
“You may not know it but, you haven’t been planning for a wedding all these years, you’ve been planning for a miracle, the miracle that occurs when God takes two people and makes them one.”– Roma Downey, in Touched by an Angel.
I believe the scripture emphasises on the importance of the following character traits:
God-fearing, Virtuous, & Servant-hearted.
In Proverbs 31:30, Solomon says that “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” There are many men who talk about women like they are talking about racehorses. That is degrading as far as I’m concerned. The Bible never insults a woman by rating her on a number card. The old saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” rings true. Physical attraction has its place in relationships, but looks can only take a person so far. People who marry for physical attraction alone will sooner or later get over it. If you marry someone for their physical attractiveness, that attractiveness wears off after a while. On reflection after 35 years together with two children along the way, a man said about his marriage to his darling wife that, “I don’t miss the “beauty” we’ve lost; I treasure the love we’ve gained.”
In Proverbs 31:10 Solomon says that a virtuous wife is the most precious treasure a man can find, she is absolutely priceless! Someone shared the following, “I realized how precious my wife was to me in one excruciatingly painful moment not long ago when I realized that having someone devoted to you for a lifetime meant more than any other experience or accomplishment or friendship or acquisition could ever mean.”
The Lord Jesus Christ, the humble Servant-king calls us all to follow in His footsteps – to serve and not to be served. He led by example by washing his followers’ feet. Hence, for this reason alone, I’m convinced that it is very important that both a man and woman display qualities of a true servant’s heart.
“Christian men and women are first and foremost brothers and sisters in Christ. Our primary perception of each other should not be as potential husband or wife, but as brother and sister.” – Al Hsu.
As for who to marry, someone said, “Marry someone who loves God more than they love you.” Look for a man or woman after God’s own heart. Look for a woman whose beauty is the beauty of holiness, not of max factor. Never look for someone who is not there. Instead, enjoy being with someone who gives time and spends it just for you. Don’t fall in love with a person’s potential, fall in love with the person. A wise old farmer once said, “Don’t marry the girl you’re in love with. Marry the girl who is in love with you.”
During the revolutionary war, there was a British officer from a prominent family who was engaged to his sweetheart before he was conscripted by the mad king George. He was sent to a colony to fight, and in one the battles, he was injured and lost his leg. And so, he graciously sat down to write his fiancée a letter. In the letter, he wrote, “I’ve been disfigured, and I’ve lost my leg… I hereby release you from any obligation to marry me.” The young lady wrote back a letter that was no less noble than the one she received from him. In it, she assured him, that no matter what happened to him, she would never break the engagement. And then she concluded with the following paragraph, she said, “I will marry you if there was enough of your body left to hold your soul.”
At times, we may feel absolutely sure about God will but only to discover we are completely wrong. And at other times we feel at a loss as to what God’s will is, and we ask for guidance. To make the matter worse, friends and advisers may give conflicting advice. Wonderful as they are, friends are no substitute for the word of God. Their advice is not a substitute for applying the word of God so to discern the will of God in your life for yourself. In fact, it was the advice of some well-meaning friends that literally ruined John Wesley’s marital life.
At the age of 32, John Wesley travelled from England to the US – Savannah, Georgia as a missionary. He fell in love with a Georgia peach, and he wanted to marry her, but some well-meaning friend, said to him that it would be more pleasing to the Lord if he remained single. In fact, one of them suggested finally that what they need to do is draw lots to discern the will of God. They got three pieces of paper – one carried the message “marry,” the other paper with a message, “think of it not this year” and the third piece of paper with the message, “think of it never.”
So, they folded the papers in a container and Wesley agreed along to this foolish idea, and he pulled out a paper from the container which read, “think of it never.” He went on and broke his engagement to this Georgia peach and went back to England. Fifteen years later, at the age of 47, he married a wealthy widow, who turned out to be a poor companion and true hindrance for the ministry. For the next 20 years, John Wesley lived in a marital misery, until she decided to leave him. Then someone said he should have married the Georgia peach. In fact, it is reputed that John Wesley was asked one time, “Mr Wesley, have you ever met Satan face to face?” He said, “No, but I’m married to his sister.”
Martin Luther and Catherine von Bora apparently married as a theological statement against those who claimed celibacy to be a higher spiritual position. I believe with all my heart that the great apostle Paul must have been married before because the book of Acts 26:10 says that he was a voting member of the Sanhedrin, and the very first qualification of a voting member of the Sanhedrin is to be married. Therefore, I can only guess that either his wife died, or that she left him after he committed his life to the Lord Jesus Christ, but the scripture does not reveal this to us.
It was said of William Jennings Bryan that when he went to ask his future father-in-law for her daughter’s hand in marriage, he tried impressing him by quoting the scripture. Knowing full well that his future father-in-law is a preacher, he went over to him and said, “Sir, Proverbs 18:22 says, whoever finds a wife find a good thing.” But as fathers are not fond of letting go of their daughters easily, the preacher man was not having none of it, nor was he going to be outdone, so in reply he quoted the scripture back and said, “young man, the apostle Paul said in 1 Cor. 7:38 that he who marries does well, but he who does not marry will do even better.” The reply left the young man scratching his head, he didn’t know what to say, but finally in a moment of inspiration he replied saying, “Yes sir, I know, Paul did not have a wife, but Solomon had 700 wives, and so, he is a better judge about marriage than Paul”
I’m fascinated by those who truly enjoy their life and live a fulfilled life as a single person. John Stott, a great man of God known around the world for his writings and as a leader of the worldwide evangelical movement remained single for 90 years. I heard of a story about a lady by the name of Harriet who died at the age of 87 a spinster. She wrote in her will, “I don’t want anyone to write or put the word ‘Miss’ as a title prefix on my tombstone epitaph, for I haven’t missed as much as some people might think.”
It seems to me that at a certain point in life, some single people may like the idea of a relationship more than the actual experience of one. Al Hsu stated in his book (The Single Issue) that, “tensions with the single life come first of all from within. Most people expect to marry by a particular age… The expectation is still that marriage is a natural development in life’s passages: nursery, primary school, secondary school, student life, career, marriage… We must face the fact that marriage may not be a possibility. When I come to this point, I completely hand over my life to God, all my dreams, hopes, and desires for a spouse, and tell him that my first priority will be to find my identity in Christ and him alone.”
My advice to single people regardless of their age is that they should always hope. I believe that unless a person has the gift of remaining single, he or she ought to pray specifically definitely, and un-embarrassingly for God to provide them with a spouse.