Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Singleness: Burden or Blessing, Part 4

Leslie Basham: Do you ever wish God would just send you an e-mail each day telling you what you need to do?

It's Tuesday, August 6; and this is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

There are many single people who wish they were married, and a lot of married people who wish they weren't. Does that seem like a relatively new problem? As Nancy will show us today, even the apostle Paul found it necessary to have a heart-to-heart talk with both married and single people. Today, you will find out what he put on their "to-do" list. Here's Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Let me read you an e-mail I received from a woman in her late 30s who has never been married. She said, "I used to measure my value, or lack thereof, by the fact that I am not married. But you said that God gives different gifts to different people at different times. So I've realized it's rude of me to tell God that I don't like the gift He has given me now. Thank you for modeling a different view of singleness. I now am finding that I have truly embraced my singleness and love the freedom it provides."

We have been talking this week about the gift of singleness. Now, singleness is not the only gift. Marriage is a gift as well, and one of the problems with life being what it is and people being discontent as we tend to be, is that so many married people wish they had the gift of singleness and so many single people wish they had the gift of marriage! We are looking at a very important passage in God's Word, 1 Corinthians 7, that gives us instructions and some direction about this matter of marital status. Paul is talking to believers in the early church about how to receive whatever gift God gives them.

In 1 Corinthians 7:7, we read in our last session that Paul says that each man has his own gift from God, one has this gift and another has that. In verse 17 of the same chapter he says each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him. This is the rule he laid down in all the churches. So Paul says to accept the gift, be content with it. Now, remember, contentment is ultimately not a feeling; contentment is a choice. As an act of my will, I can say, "Lord, I accept. I choose to be content with the gift you have given me."

One of the things I have learned over the years, and I believe this with all my heart, is that if you are not content as a single person, you would never be content as a married person. And I would say to married women, "If you are not content as a married woman, if you think that getting out of that marriage will make you happier and that you will be better off, you are wrong. If you are not content in your marriage, you will not be content once you get out of that marriage and go into the single life. God's gift, His assignment, His calling is to be received. We are to thank Him for it and use that gift as He intended.

Paul goes on to say, in 1 Corinthians 7:20, that we are to remain in the calling of God, whatever it is, unless and until God changes that calling. He goes on to say, in verse 27, that we are not to make it our objective to change our marital status. Stay in the calling where God has you right now--unless God makes it clear that He is giving you a different calling, a different gift. Don't make it your purpose in life to change your gift, to change your calling.

Paul goes on to say, in verse 18, that each one should retain the place in life the Lord has assigned him. He asks, "Is any man called being circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? Let him not be circumcised."

What he's saying is, "Don't try to get a different gift than the one God has already given you." In verse 19, Paul says, "Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing..." Jew, Gentile, married, single: it's not your state in life that matters. Keeping God's commands is what counts. In verse 20, he says, "Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called."

There's that word "abide," i.e., stay there, remain, don't always be trying to get out of it. In this passage, Paul says that it's alright to be married. There's nothing wrong with being married. If God gives you that opportunity and God opens that door and you want to take it--take it. But don't be striving for a different life situation than the one you have right now. Why? Because so many single people miss out on the joy and the fullness and the blessing God wants to give them now because they are looking for something down the road. They can't enjoy what they do have because they're worrying about what they don't have.

It's not just singles who do that. It's married people, too. It's a married couple who can't have children and who are saying, "I would be happy, this marriage would be complete, we'd be full if we could just have children." Then they have children--and they're waiting for them to get out of diapers! Then they're waiting for the children to go to school and then they're waiting for the children to get out of school and then they're waiting for the children to get married: they're always waiting for something else. In the meantime, life passes them by.

I want to tell you, ladies, that I am enjoying my life. I loved being a teenager. Well, most of the time. It wasn't exactly my favorite season in life, but I had a lot of joy during my teenage years. But I really loved being in my 20s. Those were great years. I was having opportunities for ministry and service and was developing relationships. I loved being in my 20s.

Then I hit 30. I loved my 30s. I mean, God did so many great things in my life and gave me rich experiences and relationships. The 30s were so good by comparison that I just couldn't believe anything would get better. Then I turned 40, and I want to tell you the 40s are great. I love life.

Now, I don't love everything about life. I didn't love everything about my 20s or my 30s, either, and I won't love everything about my 40s or 50s. But I am enjoying what God has given me. It's a gift, and I am receiving it as a gift, with a thankful heart. I am not "missing life."

Will I be single forever? I don't know. I may be; I may not be. The wonderful thing is that I don't have to know and I don't have to live in the constant anticipation of something that God hasn't given me yet.

Then Paul says--and we skipped over this little phrase quickly, but I don't want to miss it--that what matters is not our marital status but obedience. In verse 19 he says, "the keeping of the commandments of God" is what counts. The issue is not, are you married or are you single; the issue is, are you in the will of God? If God wants you married, are you willing to be married? If God wants you single, are you willing to be single? If you've been married and God takes your husband, are you willing to live as a widow? Are you willing to be single again?

We're talking about joy this week. We're talking about how to walk though the journey of life with joy, whether single or married. Joy is the product--the byproduct--of knowing, embracing and doing the will of God. That's how I get joy.

By "joy" I don't mean giddiness or that everything is easy, that there are no tears, that there are no frustrations. I've just come through what probably has been the hardest year of my life in many respects. But I want to tell you that in the midst of the tears and the heartache and the problems there is joy because I am obeying God, I am surrendering to Him. I lose my joy when I start kicking and screaming and resisting the will of God, when I don't choose to embrace the will of God. But when I say, "I want to know Your will, oh, God. I want to embrace it, and I want to do it," I find joy. And you will as well!

Then Paul says in Verse 24 to remain with God in whatever condition He has placed you. Let each of you remain with God in the state in which you were called. This verse tells us that whether you're single or married, you walk in that state, in that condition, with God--and that's how you find joy. Keep your relationship with the Lord uppermost, foremost. It's not my singleness that's the defining thing about me. Whether you're single or married is not what defines you as a woman. What defines me--what defines you--as a woman is our relationship with God and our walking through life in a relationship with Him. Paul says that we are to remain in that condition.

Sometime ago, I came across a piece whose author I do not know. I also don't remember where I got it. But I want to read this Declaration of Acceptance and Surrender.

"God is my Heavenly Father. He is the all-wise one who controls all things. His essence is love. His desire is for my good. Since He is loving enough to desire only good for me, wise enough to plan just what is best, and powerful enough to accomplish what His love and goodness have planned, how can I lack any good thing? It is to Him that I make unconditional surrender of all that I am and all that I have. I belong to Him.

Especially do I now present to Him all my normal desires to be married and to have a husband and family realizing that He knows what is best for my life. I acknowledge that God has met my needs in the past and has taken care of me thus far, without the benefits and enjoyment of a husband. I fully accept the fact that my being single is God's will for me at this point in my life, realizing that this is for my good and His glory. Therefore, I yield to God my right to be married. He will not withhold any good thing from me. And if He does not give me the gift of marriage, I will know that He has a higher purpose in mind.

I furthermore acknowledge that my future belongs to God. I trust His wisdom, knowing that His plan for my life will be the most fulfilling to me and pleasing to Him. I purpose to seek fulfillment in Him alone, realizing that He is able to meet and control my desires--spiritual, emotional and physical. I also purpose to refuse any thoughts of self-pity, jealousy or resentment which could creep in when I do not understand His way with me now or His intention for the future.

Lord, I make this declaration before You. I need Your help to be true to this commitment and to be immediately aware of the slightest deviation. Help Yourself to my life, giving or withholding marriage--whatever you choose. Thank You for being good and trustworthy. Thank You for Your love for me and for Your good purpose for my life. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen."

Leslie Basham: That's Nancy Leigh DeMoss reading a Declaration of Acceptance and Surrender for every unmarried person. If you would like a copy, you can find it on our Web site ReviveOurHearts.com.

While you are there, you can also find information on how to get a copy of today's program. It comes as part of a series called Singleness: Burden or Blessing? It is available on one cassette. Or, you can call us at 1-800-569-5959.

 

At Revive Our Hearts, we want to see you grow spiritually. Would you be willing today to write to Nancy and let her know you appreciate the practical application she gives each day? Mention the specific things that have helped you the most, and tell her you would like to support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts with a donation. When you do, we'd love to say thank you with a booklet called Singled Out for Him.

Tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts, Nancy will point out the blessings of singleness--and, yes, there are some! In fact, there are many. Tune in tomorrow and find out for yourself on the next Revive Our Hearts.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.