Becoming Who You Will Become
The way you spend your time, and the friends you surround yourself with, and the entertainment you consume are shaping who you will be in the next five years. Right now, you are becoming who you will become. How many of you rolled your eyes at having to do piano lessons, and then years later regretted that they didn’t stick with that training? You’re not a piano player now, because you chose to be a lazy & disinterested practicer 10 years ago.
So then, as you prepare for who you will become, you should ask yourself, what sort of man/woman does God’s words tell me I should be, and what do I need to be doing right now to cultivate those virtues and attributes in my life.
Benchmarks for Young Men
There’s a Jewish saying, “Every father owes three things to his son: to teach him to read the law, give him a trade, and get him a wife.” I have three things I’d like to impart to you young men this evening. I can’t get you a wife, but maybe she’s in the room and you can talk to her after my talk.
So single men who desire to get married should measure their readiness in three arenas:
1. Faithfulness to the Lord
You will soon be required to lead your home spiritually. You will be the covenant head of your home; which means you need to be pursuing the Lord without anyone having to remind you. Who you are when no one is watching, is who you are. You were made to glorify and enjoy the Triune God, and in Him find the fullness of joy. Don’t imagine that you’ll be able to be a good husband or father if you do not faithfully submit yourself to the Word of God, by reading it, praying it, and partaking of it.
2. Fidelity to purity
If a young man cannot contain his impulses he is not ready for marriage. A godly husband must be a source of steadiness. Lack of impulse control demonstrates a weakness of character that would be foolish for a young woman to unite herself to. Some obvious implications arise from this. Recent porn use, gambling (which is a scheme to make wealth without work), drunkenness or drug use indicates that a man doesn’t have moral fortitude to tell his impulses no.
Thus, young men, you need to take a knife to the throat of your earthly desires, and do whatever is necessary to flee these lusts of the flesh. Your home will one day be shaped by your ability to hold fast to and defend purity. You must begin right now. Get a dumb phone, delete the gambling apps, don’t worry if you’re called a prude for not drinking more booze. And by the grace of the Spirit, flee the grave that is the failure to restrain your impulses.
3. Financial stability
A man who is ready for marriage is not one who has a fortune already made; but he is aimed in a vocational direction that is viable at providing for a family of at least 4 within the next 5 years. Gentlemen, this means you need to be saving excessively, and forgoing all the trinkets and toys, in order to invest in a vocation. Have you sought counsel on your career choices? What is the financial ceiling & floor of that field? Find the work no one else wants to do and do it with all your might. An average down payment is $30k. You need to spend every spare moment whittling away at saving up for that sort of goal.
The sum of it is this, seek to be a steady man. Steady in your faith. Steady in your impulses. Steady in your finances. If you can demonstrate all that to a young woman and her parents, you will be hard dude to turn away.
Benchmarks for Young women
One pre-NT Jewish writer said this, “The man who takes a wife has the makings of a fortune, a helper that suits him, and a pillar to lean on.” This echoes Solomon’s statement that he who finds a wife finds a good thing. In biblical thought, a chaste young woman is a fortune waiting to be made. The reason she is a fortune is that she supplies to the man a wealth of comfort, refreshment, offspring, and force multiplication. But what if there are numerous claims on her? A fortune divided is, well, unfortunate.
One of the Bible’s primary concerns for young women (both OT & NT) is that they be chaste. Chaste is a word that causes your inner-feminist to make a sour face, or you just stare back with a blank expression with no certainty what precisely this virtue entails. It is not less than sexual purity (both mental & physical), but it does encompass more than that. Doubtlessly, sexual purity is a significant component of what it means to be chaste. A sexually loose woman ends up with divided loyalties, and quite possibly the burden of children born out of wedlock. A woman with a high body count is making herself like one of those time share resorts; an entire host of people make claims of ownership upon it, but none of them have any concern for the care/maintenance of it.
Here is Calvin on the virtue of chastity in women: “In short, [Paul] wishes women to be restrained, by conjugal love and affection for their children, from giving themselves up to licentious attachments, he wishes them to rule their own house in a sober and orderly manner, forbids them to wander about in public places, bids them be chaste, and at the same time modest, so as to be subject to the dominion of their husbands; for those who excel in other virtues sometimes take occasion from them to act haughtily, so as to be disobedient to their husbands.”
And from another writer: “Chastity is the robe which every woman should wear, and modesty is the golden clasp that keeps it upon her, and the fringe that adorns it. When the clasp is lost, the garment is likely to fall off; and when the fringe is torn away, or carelessly allowed to be trampled upon, the disfigurement of the robe has commenced, until at length it is cast away as not worth being retained.”
So then, here are a few benchmarks for young women to be aiming for as they prepare themselves for marriage.
1. Loyalty to the Lord
You should be diligent in the reading and committing to heart the Word of God. Faithfully attend church. Serve the body, and one practical way of doing so would be to volunteer to sit with families with young kids to lend a helping hand.
2. Focus your Affections
Meaning, your emotional life should be spent on blessing and nurturing those within your family. As far is it depends on you, your relationship with your parents and siblings, and (in most cases) extended family should be marked by generosity, sweetness, and service. This becomes an important way of cultivating skills of nurture and service that will be used a thousand times over in your role as a wife and mother. The lack of chastity causes a woman to be unbounded in her loves, whereas a chaste woman has rooted loves.
3. Circumstantial Stability
You must learn contentment. Your husband will be on the front end of his career, and the first few years of most marriages are marked by financial leanness. This is where the virtue of contentment becomes not only an important point of obedience to the Lord, but also a profound blessing to others (namely your husband). Envy and covetousness will turn you into a bitter woman, the sort that drives the men in her life to the rooftop. But a content woman becomes a vine spilling forth sweet fruit and potent wine for all who have the privilege of gathering around her table. Godliness with contentment is great gain, and this is something to underscore particularly for young women growing up in the age of Pinterest and Instagram.
Get Started Today
So, as you think about preparing for marriage, consider these benchmarks. Am I walking with the Lord? Am I vigorously fleeing youthful lusts (for young men) and being chaste (for young women)? Am I steady and content? Not all of this can be accomplished overnight. That goal of marriage may be further off for some of you than others, and there may be some of you that need to work on some of these things before even entertaining taking that step towards marriage. But what you cannot afford to do is twiddle your thumbs. Get started using your minutes and your hours to become who God calls you to be.
Your chief end is the glorify God. You are to do so not in a pietistic platonic realm, but in your body which is the Lords. Young men, use your strength, by the grace of the Spirit, to be men of valor. Young women, use your beauty and wisdom, by the grace of the Spirit, to be women of virtue.