The word “covenant” is used quite a bit in Christian circles. We speak of God’s covenants in the Bible, there’s something called “covenant theology,” and there is, of course, the covenant of marriage. Typically, we know that covenants are serious agreements, but beyond that, we might not know the depth of what a covenant truly means.
Back in October, my pastor preached a sermon on the various covenants that we see God making with his people throughout the Bible. He made these points about covenants:
- Covenants are solemn commitments between God and his people that places obligations and responsibilities on both parties to their mutual benefit.
- God desires relationship with his people – and that’s what covenants are all about.
- The two parties in the covenant are engaging on a global mission.
Then he went through all the Old Testament covenants as well as the New Covenant established by Christ at the Last Supper. And he ended with our current call as believers: we are called to a solemn commitment with the God of hope and promise.
And as I scripted out the words “Covenant Faithfulness to Christ” in my journal, I began wondering what that would truly look like for me as a single person. Obviously, every believer is called to have covenant faithfulness to Christ. Yet sometimes married people seem to have the “advantage” in that their marriage covenant is a parable of Christ’s covenant with his bride the church. They have a ceremony wherein they stand before God and the church and make vows to each other. They are called to lifelong faithfulness to each other in order to show what faithfulness to Christ looks like.
In the end, however, that marriage is a temporary picture. An important one, but one that will not last for eternity. What will last for eternity is the relationship that each and every one of us have with our Savior. And as a single person, I’m living into that reality right now. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:34 says, “And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband.”
Marriage is a beautiful blessing with two people living out daily sacrifice in order to love one another. It is, however, something I can easily see as “better” than being single and grow discontent with my lack of it. What God has reminded me, however, is that he’s given me an incredible gift in pursuing him undistractedly. He has given me time currently to learn “how to be holy in body and spirit.”
So, I wanted to know what “covenant faithfulness” would look like in my life this year, working it out in practical ways. And this led to me choosing “Covenant” as my word for the year. This was especially clear when I read these verses on Christmas night:
“But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.” (Psalm 103:17-18)
God reminded me of his unchanging love and called me to lean into what “keeping his covenant” would truly look like this year. And that began with forming some vows. Not only did I want to put them up to see them all the time, but I also wanted to study them in depth to fully understand what pursuing this covenantal relationship means. Just as marriage vows are meant to remind each partner of what they’re committing to in day-to-day life together, so I desire these vows to remind me of what I’m pursuing in my relationship with the Lord.
They are not promises of perfection, nor are they meant to make me feel more self-righteous. Rather, they are formed from a place of desperately wanting to know my Savior better and knowing that his grace covers every time I will fail at them (which will be often).
My hope in sharing them here is to encourage other single people to go deeper in their relationship with Christ as well. And as I study each one in depth—along with the book of Hosea, which shows God’s covenant love on brilliant display—I hope to be formulating something which I can one day publish or share with singles.
With that, here are ten imperfectly formed vows, fashioned to pull me ever closer to my Savior:
- I vow to make our relationship the most important one in my life and shape all other priorities around it.
- I vow to grow in my understanding of your love for me every day.
- I vow to fight to keep you first in my heart and recognize and eradicate all other idolatrous competitors.
- I vow to take purposeful steps to kill my sin and repent quickly when I cherish it in my heart.
- I vow to seek grace instead of perfection—an unattainable standard.
- I vow to be faithful in pursuing my calling this year, so as to see greater returns for your kingdom.
- I vow to stay accountable to those who know me best and stay humble to their loving words into my heart.
- I vow to walk the road of chastity in singleness and bring you all my unfulfilled longings instead of seeking fulfillment elsewhere.
- I vow to fight against bitterness, anger, self-pity, and defensiveness in this pilgrimage.
- I vow to encourage and invest in the mentoring and friendship relationships you’ve placed in my life.
Covenants are never easy. There will be so many temptations to draw me away from this pursuit. But even within the week or so that I wrote these words and started studying the first one on the list, I felt a profound shift in my heart. God truly is faithful to deepen our love for him as we pursue him.
So if you feel discouraged in your fight for greater affection for God, take heart my friend. He who called you is faithful, and he will complete the good work he began in you (Phil. 1:6). May this covenant become ever more beautiful to us, and may it bring us great joy.