Singles, married people never argue with me when I quote James 3:2, that we all stumble in many ways. You don’t have to convince anyone who is married that the human heart is evil and has a propensity to go astray. We see the evil in our own hearts more than enough; sometimes, we see the evil in our spouse. That isn’t really a debate. If you count radio broadcasts, I’ve spoken to literally millions of people about this and haven’t had a single married person challenge me on it.
All of which, quite naturally, can cause singles to grow more than a little nervous—how can you know the person you want to marry, a person who stumbles in many ways, won’t be a train wreck of a spouse?
There’s one biblical quality extolled time and time again in the Wisdom books of the Old Testament that helps put a check on sin: “By the fear of the Lord one keeps away from evil.” (Proverbs 16:6) Our hearts are ready to jump, but a heart that has an appropriate reverence for God has a check that other hearts don’t.
Proverbs 31 even suggests that this should be the primary factor driving the marital decision: “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” (v. 30)
So, single men and women find someone who has an individual reverence for God. The kind of man or woman who doesn’t practice piety to be accepted by the church or others but who has a conscience that is sensitive to the providential, all-seeing eyes of God. Someone who lives with an awareness of God’s presence, the kind of person who is more likely to be convicted of their sin even before you mention it.
If you catch them telling someone (or you), “Look, when I was praying the other day, God convicted me that what I said might have seemed a little harsh…” those words should make you quiver with excitement even more than 6 pack abs or a large trust-fund.
Women, you want a man who will feel crushed by God if he gets harsh or insensitive, not a man who treats you one way at church (when others are watching) and another way at home. Unless you live at the church, peer pressure won’t help you much.
Men, you want a woman who will hear from God if she puts the children first, above her marriage, or becomes negative. If you raise the issue, she’ll likely think you’re just being selfish. If God raises the issue, that’s a tougher person to argue with.
The struggle against sin is a reality—even for Christians. So find someone who lets God be the point man in your future spouse’s personal battle against sin.