For the single and searching, the lyrics of U2 find their place, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for”. For the single and pursuing, the response, “You’re just not my type!” stings and leaves the heart sick. Whether you relate and resonate more with the first group or the second group, the common denominator is they both address the kind of person someone desires to be with in a relationship. Yet, questions abound for the Christian single: How does Scripture inform the characteristics you are looking for in a potential spouse? Furthermore, before you even begin a pursuit, do you know what type of person you are? With these two questions in mind, I believe Scripture encourages us to be the type of person we are looking for and to search for someone who is committed to the same characteristics. What characteristics define such a person? Holiness, humility, honesty, hospitality, and humor.
This first characteristic may best be summed up by the saying, “Run as fast as you can toward God, and if someone keeps up, introduce yourself.” But what does it look like to run toward God? 1 Peter 1:15–16 helps us out here by pointing us to the character of God, “but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” Our holy God commands us as His followers to imitate Him in this way. To pursue a life of holiness means not living for self-comfort but living to be conformed into the image of Jesus Christ. The one who pursues holiness will prioritize time with God in Scripture and through prayer as well as commitment to the local church. Therefore, in your life reflect the character of God and seek someone committed to the same.
The reality is we all fall short of this first characteristic. Holiness doesn’t mark every moment of our lives. The second characteristic takes this into account. Our response when we sin is not to give up on pursuing holiness or to simply try harder. Our response when we fail in this pursuit of holiness is to look to Jesus Christ. The cross of Christ reminds us we are not justified by our own righteousness or holiness. We are saved by the grace of God through the person and work of Jesus Christ in the gospel. It is this truth of the gospel that produces a repentant heart and a teachable spirit to those who receive it. It is the gospel that enables each of us as believers to display humility in our thoughts, words, and actions. To display humility, first and foremost, means to submit to the authority of God’s Word. Submissive to God’s Word, humility among human relationships mean to listen and learn before speaking up, to “be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19). Humility shows up in the midst of conflict as well. The display of humility in the midst of conflict leads to repentance, “Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you” (James 4:9–10). A mind of humility strives to be like Christ, thinking of others and looking to other’s interests first and God’s glory ultimately (Philippians 2:1–11). As you pray to God for someone who displays humility, plead with Him to give you a humble heart in the process.
The gospel not only changes our attitudes; the gospel also changes our words. After introducing the subject of the new life in Christ, the Apostle Paul begins to detail what this new life looks like, “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another” (Ephesians 4:25). While the immediate context is to the church, the principle can be applied to any interaction we have with others. Speaking honestly means more than just not lying; speaking honestly means speaking truthfully as well as speaking transparently. As trust is an essential ingredient in any relationship, if you see the importance of honesty in a future spouse and relationship, then commit yourself to being a person who will speak the truth when inquired and confronted and who will speak with transparency for the sake of accountability.
Being the type of person you are looking for is about more than simply a man pursuing a woman. It is about having an outward-focused life and making disciples. The practice of hospitality is one such avenue to both evangelize to the lost and build up believers in the faith. Hospitality is about having an open heart and home. One of the qualifications for a church leader, someone who is to be an example to the flock they oversee, is that they be hospitable (1 Timothy 3:2). 1 Peter 4:9 tells us how we are to do this, “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling”. The person who practices hospitality opens their heart to others and welcomes them into their life. If your hope is to be with someone who cares for others, then make sure you are someone who is practicing an others-oriented life.
If you are striving to be the type you are looking for by pursuing these first four characteristics, then you are doing well. But I believe one necessary characteristic remains: humor. While Scripture may not explicitly uphold this characteristic on the same level as the previous four characteristics, humor still has an important place in a relationship. Proverbs 31:25 mentions laughter and Proverbs 17:22 values a joyful heart as good medicine. Having a sense of humor and finding someone with the same value allows you to joke around and laugh together during the high and low seasons of life.
Christian single, as you look for a person who exhibits these five characteristics, prepare yourself to be the type who pursues holiness, displays humility, speaks honestly, practices hospitality, and values humor. Be the type you are looking for.