Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Singleness: Burden or Blessing?, Part 3

Leslie Basham: How do you react when someone gives you a gift that you don't want? Do you receive it graciously or does your smile only mask your disappointment.

This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss for Monday, August 5.

Gifts are funny things. Sometimes we get things we don't want and don't need, and they wind up in a garage sale. Other times we get gifts we want, but don't need. Finally, there are some gifts we receive that we do need, but that we do not want. Let's join Nancy as she helps us learn to receive all the gifts God has given us.

Nancy DeMoss: When I was a kid, my family had a friend who we called "Uncle Palmer." Now I always thought Uncle Palmer was very, very old. I don't suppose he was really always very old; but to us, as children, we always thought he was old. Uncle Palmer was a dear, godly man. He had just a love for the Lord and a love for our family. He traveled all around the world doing various types of ministry; and as he would travel, he would accumulate little knickknacks and souvenirs. He would wrap them at Christmas and send them to our family. He would have something for each of us with our name on it.

It would be usually kind-of roughly wrapped. And as children, (I'm embarrassed to say this) we would always kind-of laugh at Uncle Palmer's gifts. They were invariably something that either you had no idea what it was or you had no idea what to do with it or absolutely no use for it or sometimes they were even used things; we would just kind of make fun of these. We didn't have a great appreciation for the fact that he just loved our family, and he wanted to do something meaningful for each of us children. He had looked long and, I'm sure, in all parts of the world for these gifts. They were not what we considered particularly meaningful gifts as little children.

Now, there are different kinds of gifts, and different kinds of givers. Sometimes someone gives you something, but it's a person who doesn't really know you. And they don't know what you like and dislike. They don't know your tastes. Or maybe they really do know you, but you are hoping for something other than what they give you. When you open the box, it's not the thing you have been hinting for all year. You know your mom's been asking what you need, and you have been telling her what page in the catalog to look at. And you hoped that's what it was going to be, and it's something totally different. Sometimes it's kind of hard to mask the disappointment you feel when you tear into that box, and it's not what you hoped that it would be.

Well, as we look all through the Scripture, we find out that God is a giver. He loves to give us good gifts. He knows what we need. He knows what we can really use, even when we don't know what we need. God loves us, and delights to give good gifts to His children. God selects the very best gifts, not just at Christmas but every day all year round; He is always selecting the very best gifts for each of us. Aren't you glad He doesn't overlook anyone on His list.

I love that passage in Psalms 16:5-6 where the psalmist says: "Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup. You have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places. Surely I have a delightful inheritance." The psalmist says that God knows how to give me good gifts. He knows where the proper lines and boundaries are for me. He's carved out a portion for me. He's carved out an inheritance for me. He's assigned me a portion and it's good. It's good because God gave it to me.

Now, we have been talking this week about gifts, as it relates to marriage and singleness. We are looking at 1 Corinthians 7; and we come to verse 7 where Paul says, in effect, "I wish that all men could experience the blessings and joys that I have experienced through being unmarried." Later in this chapter and later this week, we are going to talk about what some of those blessings and benefits are.

But he says in 1 Corinthians 7:7b: "But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that." So, one has the gift of marriage, another has the gift of singleness. We said that the word gift is the word that means a gracious gift, an undeserved benefit from God. It's a good thing. We saw that marriage, if it's God will for your life, is a good gift. If it's a good gift, God will give it. But we have also seen that God's perspective on singleness is that it's also a gift; and that when God gives you singleness, it's a good gift. It's a gift of grace.

Now, skip down in that passage to verse 17a; we're picking up on this same theme. Paul says: "Each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him." Three words: gifts, assigned and called. Paul is saying, "Marriage, if it's in the will of God, is a gift." If God called you to be married, it 's your assignment. It's your assignment. But if you are single, then singleness is God's gift to you. That's your assignment. It's what you are supposed to do. It's your calling. You see, we are talking about how to experience joy. Joy is not the result of getting all the gifts that I want. It's not the result of getting all the gifts that I think that I need. Joy comes from embracing God's perspective.

We're talking here about a radically different way of thinking about marriage and singleness. Because, you see, I know a lot of married people who wish they were single. I know a lot of single people who wish they were married. Paul is saying, "Quit wishing you are something you are not. Get satisfied with what you are. It's a gift. It's an assignment. It's a calling."

And he says, "It's a gift from God." Again, in verse 7: "Each man has his own gift from God." And verse 17: "Retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him."

I'm not single by accident. I'm not single because the right man has never asked me to marry him. I'm single because God has given to me a gift to be single for right now. God has assigned me to be single for right now. God has called me to be single for right now. If you are single right now, that is a gift God has given you. It's an assignment, a calling God has given you. Singleness is not a time in limbo, a time where we are waiting for the real thing to happen, for life to really begin, a time when we are waiting for marriage--singleness is as much a gift and a call as marriage.

I get asked from time to time: "Do you think you have the gift of singleness." The answer is: "Absolutely, Yes." How do I know? Because I'm single. That singleness, Paul tells me in 1 Corinthians 7, is a gift from God. It's a calling. It's an assignment. Are you single? How many of you are single? Let me see hands up in the air. How many of you have the gift of singleness? Some of you didn't want to put your hands in the air. If you are single right now, then right now you have the gift of singleness. I know we have some married women in here. If you are married, no matter how hard your marriage is, no matter what kind of husband you have, if you are married--then you have the gift of marriage right now.

Now, you may not have that husband tomorrow. If you are single, tomorrow God may bring your future husband into your life. And he may transition you to a different gift, the gift of marriage. You say, "Yes, Lord, bring it on!" I'm saying that joy comes from the perspective of embracing warmly, of receiving the gift that God has given to you right now.

So, what is an appropriate response to God's gifts? Using that gift for its intended purpose. Each gift has a purpose. As we go, in these next few days, further into this passage, we are going to find some of the purposes of singleness. But you will never use that gift for its intended purpose, if you haven't first accepted it, if you haven't first said, "Thank you, Lord, for this gift."

I read a few moments ago from Psalms 16:5 where David said: "Lord you have assigned me my portion and my cup." He's accepting God's gift. Then we come to the end of that chapter (Psalms 16:7-11), and David, seeing the joy that comes with acceptance, says: "I will praise the Lord, who counsels me. Even at night my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices. My body also will rest secure, because You will not abandon me to the grave, nor will You let Your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand." You see here an acceptance of God's assigned portion, an acceptance of that gift He has given to us--that brings joy.

David is saying "You've made known to me a path of life, a path of joy and it's joy in whatever circumstances You have assigned to me because I'm in Your presence and nothing can separate me from that."

Now, by saying that God has given us the gift of singleness or marriage, we are not saying that this is the gift that God will give us forever. Most people will not have the gift of singleness forever. Most people will not have the gift of marriage forever. Everyone starts out single, and nine out of ten women will be widowed, will be single again. So, don't focus on receiving this gift for a lifetime. You may not have it for a lifetime. Don't try and figure out how you are going to live a lifetime as a single. Focus on receiving it today, just today. That's the only day that you know that God has given you this gift. Receive it today.

Leslie Basham: Is this an area that has given you a lot of pain lately? Maybe you thought God was asking for a lifetime pledge of singleness. Aren't you glad He only asks for today?

Nancy will be back with a closing thought in just a minute. If what Nancy said today struck a chord with you, then let me suggest ordering a copy of today's program. Why? Because this isn't an issue that's going to vanish overnight. The more you can remind yourself of the truth, the easier it will be to obey God and trust Him with every area of your life.

The series called Singleness: Burden or Blessing? is available from our Resource Center when you call 1-800-569-5959. If you order the series or a send a donation because you like what you hear on this program, we'd be very grateful. In fact, we'd like to say "thanks" by sending you a booklet called Singled Out for Him. You can reach us by writing to Revive Our Hearts.

Are you someone who likes to use a "to-do list"? Then tune in tomorrow, when we'll hear the apostle Paul's "to-do list" for single and married people. Now, here's Nancy.

Nancy DeMoss: Have you received singleness, your singleness, as a gift from the Lord? Have you thanked Him for it, or do you maybe need to do that old-fashioned word: repent.

It means to change your way of thinking, change your mind, to go in a different direction. Maybe you need to repent of the fact that you have resented or resisted or refused this gift. You said, "God, I don't want that gift, I want a different gift." Maybe you need to repent of the fact that you have been discontent with the gift that God has given you kind-of the way we kids were with Uncle Palmer's Christmas gifts. You need to repent and say, "Lord, I've not appreciated this gift. I've not accepted it from You. I have been striving for a different gift, for a gift that I thought would be better."

I wonder if there are some in this room that just need to repent of resentment that you have had toward God for not giving you the gift of marriage. It may not be overflowing resentment. You may not be overtly bitter; but deep in your heart, there has been a rebellion, a resistance, a resentment against God for withholding from you what you thought was the best gift. I wonder if you would just in this moment say, "Lord, I accept the gift. I accept singleness. If I am single, that's the gift You have for me right now. I receive it, and I thank You for it."

Leslie Basham: Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss is a ministry partnership of Life Action Ministries.

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