When I was single, I remember sharing a cup of coffee with a close friend and lamenting that I didn’t feel I was building anything of lasting value with my life. I had a fulfilling career that I knew was impacting others. I was devoting time to Bible studies, serving at church, and meeting up with friends. But it felt as if my efforts were scattered. At times, how I was using my life felt pointless.
“It feels like I’m putting my eggs in many different baskets,” I told my friend. “But I want to put all my eggs in one basket!” We laughed at the unintentional play on words. The truth was, I longed to invest in a husband and children. I desired a family — a sole pursuit to pour my energies into.
The root question became: What does fruitfulness look like as a single?
Since my days in Sunday school, I’ve been familiar with the famous “be fruitful” verse found in Genesis 1:28:
“And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’”
This passage is straightforward and speaks of being physically fruitful through marriage and the bearing of children. But I think the message I received from it caused me to wonder if I could be fruitful in my singleness or if my true impact for the kingdom was on hold until I married. Because the act of getting married was largely out of my control (no eligible bachelors were lining up, asking for my hand in marriage), this thought was disheartening.
What I discovered as I turned to Scripture for answers is that though physical fruitfulness is linked to having children, spiritual fruitfulness is not. In fact, relationship status isn’t once mentioned when the Bible addresses what fruit looks like in the life of a believer. Consider these three criteria that are mentioned:
Fruit comes from abiding in Christ. In some of His final conversations with His disciples, Jesus told them how to be fruitful.
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5)
The sole criterion for bearing fruit is being connected to Jesus, the True Vine. In fact, John 15:16 says I have been chosen and appointed by Christ to bear fruit that lasts. As I go through my days with their planned and unplanned events, the Lord opens my eyes to opportunities to invest in things that will produce fruit.
Fruit comes from walking with the Spirit. When I believed in Christ’s saving work on the cross, I received the gift of the Holy Spirit, a helper, comforter and guide. Consider the words of Galatians 5:22-23, 25:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law … If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.”
As I invite the Holy Spirit to direct me, He produces fruit in my life. These God-given qualities of character draw others to Christ and give me power to do the things the Lord calls me to. This fruit is a blessing to myself and to those around me.
Fruit comes from growing in spiritual maturity. While there have been times in my life where I wondered if my faithfulness translated to fruitfulness, I shouldn’t have doubted. 2 Peter 1:5-8 exhorts:
“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
This passage talks about a way to prevent an unfruitful Christian life. The key is allowing God to expand your knowledge of Him and grow your spiritual maturity. Staples of the Christian life such as virtue, steadfastness and love ensure that the believer will be effective and fruitful.
Fruit that endures
A day came where I married and had children. Just as I’d once hoped, I started putting my “eggs” into fewer baskets. However, I quickly realized I could still be ineffective in my new investment model. The fruitfulness of my life had little to do with my circumstances. It had everything to do with abiding in Christ, walking with the Spirit and growing in spiritual maturity.
In fact, more than a decade later, I continue to see the investments I made during my single years bear fruit. I will hear from someone I mentored or a friend I encouraged, and they will thank me for allowing God to use me. At the time I had no idea how significant those conversations would be. Every believer can bear lasting fruit, regardless of relationship status. Don’t wait to be fruitful; start planting today.
Copyright 2023 Suzanne Hadley Gosselin. All rights reserved.