What Does the Bible Say About “Looking for The One” Versus “Waiting for The One”?

Ecclesiastes 3:1

Inevitable, since I talk about so many topics revolving around “how to find the one,” I often get commends such as, “You should not look for the one. Just live your life and let the person come to you naturally. What God has for you will work itself out!”

Statements like this have some truth in them. However, this oversimplification can get you into a lot of confusing passivity:

  • If God just brings someone into your life, how will you know when this happens if you never take actions to test the relationship opportunities?
  • Will this person announce it to you as you sit at home waiting for that magical knock on the door, “Hello, I’m the one from God. You’ve waited long enough. I’m here now!”
  • If you are a woman, are you only trusting God if this man talks to you first?
  • If you are a man, aren’t you taking matters into your own hands by pursuing and not just waiting on God to bring the one to you?

Do you see my concern with this type of advice about “Just wait for God to bring you the one? Yes, it’s true that we must wait on God. Yes, it’s true that God is sovereign and is able to produce his will for your future marriage. And, yes, we must be careful we don’t start chasing a person who’s not the one and, in the process, walk out of God’s will for our lives.

But the solution to these problems is not to give an oversimplistic and unhelpful Christian-ish answer like, “Don’t look for the one. Just let them come to you naturally.”

Therefore, to help us answer this difficult question about waiting on God for the one and doing your part to find the one, here are 4 biblical pointers to consider.

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1. To Approach Relationships Biblically, You Cannot Approach Them Formulaically

The Bible is all about having a relationship with God. Relationships are not formulaic. Therefore, contrary to popular slogans, the Bible is not our textbook, our roadmap, or our spiritual encyclopedia organized in alphabetical order.

Rather, God teaches us spiritual truths and principles in the midst of messy stories recorded in Scripture. Unlike our modern self-help books where we take a topic and give all kinds of advice about it, when you open the Bible, you find people trying to follow God through difficult circumstances. It can feel a bit all over the place. But upon closer inspection, you will find that in the midst of these records, God shows us how to apply his truths to our lives as well.

Therefore, you know you are off track when it comes to relationships when you make a rigid rule that is not in Scripture, like, “Don’t look for the one. Just wait for them to come to you naturally.” There is so much ambiguity in this statement that it will only help a small amount of people who need that narrow perspective. I’m not saying it’s a wrong perspective. I’m just saying some people are too passive, some people are too active, and some people find a way to be active and passive at exactly the wrong moment. Thus to say to everyone, “Don’t look for the one. Just wait on God,” will surely be unhelpful and misleading to many people who need to hear other parts of Scripture too, like all the verses about stepping out in faith rather than staying put in fear.

There are rigid rules in the Bible (like the 10 commandments). Obey those as written in the Bible. But behind even these rules, there is a posture and principle that must be applied beyond the mere obedience to the letter of the law (which was the point of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7). 

My point? Don’t follow man-made advice like it is a biblical law (Matthew 15:8-9). Seek to walk with God in a real relationship. He will teach you to apply his biblical principles in the proper way that best suits your individual variables.

2. To Be a Bible Believing Christian, You Must Be Biblically Consistent in All Parts of Your Life

I’ve often found there to be a profound theological inconsistency when Christians give practical advice on any other topic compared to when giving advice on relationships.

If you asked the average Christian a question like, “I’m unemployed. What does God want me to do?”, normally you would get a well-balanced answer that involves spiritual advice and practical advice. If you need a job, we all know you should pray and ask God. Maybe even fast. Ask others to intercede for you. But we also all know you need to apply to jobs, network, get the proper training, and do far more than just randomly living your life while hoping a job plops into your lap.

And yet, many of these same Christians give completely different advice when it comes to singles who want to be married. To them, they give answers like, “Just focus on God. It will happen in his timing,” or, “Just be content in Christ. He’s all that you need,” or, “Don’t take matters into your own hands. Just wait on God.”

Do you see the issue here? It’s completely inconsistent? So which approach is right and biblical? To rely on God in faith, waiting for him to come through while you also make wise decisions that are in your power to make? Or should you just wait on God, pray, and let things happen to you without putting in any personal effort?

I believe waiting and walking in faith is the biblical approach. There will be a time for waiting, but then there will be a time for doing (Ecclesiastes 3:1). To think it will always be one or the other is an immature application of Scripture.

3. To Apply the Bible Properly, You Must Treat Others How You Want to Be Treated

A huge principle in Scripture is this idea of treating others how you want to be treated (Matthew 7:12). Here again we can see how the advice of “Just let the one find you” is a bad application of Scripture.

Why should the one be required to come into your life while you just wait? Why isn’t your future spouse allowed to just wait while you come into their life? The “Just wait and never be active” method results in a bias and self-serving application of biblical principles. The principles are not the issue. It’s the application that is the issue. Yes, wait on God; but waiting on God does not mean “don’t do anything but wait.” It means you trust him to produce the results he wants while you follow him actively in your life.

So in that sense, you do actually need to look for the one; otherwise you are just waiting for someone to look for you, which is a double standard. If both the man and woman believe they should “just wait” for God to bring the one into their life, how will that work exactly? Won’t they both just be waiting?

4. To Obey God, You Must Follow His Leading and Accept Real Consequences for Good and Bad Choices

If you don’t actively follow the Lord, you can’t just say, “Well, I guess it wasn’t God’s will.” That’s misapplication of the theological truths about God’s sovereignty. Yes, God will produce what he wants through our actions. He has the final say on the outcomes (Proverbs 16:33). But he also chooses to use our efforts to bring about the outcomes he desires.

At one point, Naomi said to Ruth and her sister-in-law, “The Lord grant that you may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband!” (Ruth 1:9). However, Naomi then said to Ruth, “My daughter, should I not seek rest for you, that it may be well with you? Is not Boaz our relative, with whose young women you were?” (Ruth 3:1-2). Did Naomi ask God for a husband for Ruth but then take matters into our hands later? No, God answered Naomi’s request through Naomi’s and Ruth’s actions.

So should you look for the one or should you just wait for God to bring this person into your life? You should do what God is telling you to do. To receive God’s best, you have to do what God says to you.