Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Singleness: Burden or Blessing?, Part 5

Leslie Basham: Do you ever find that in August when it's hot and humid, you wish it were January and snowing? But when it's January and snowing, you wish it were August. It is Wednesday, August 7. You are listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Discontentment is an attitude that slips into many areas of our lives including whether we are married or not. If you have been daydreaming about a change in your marital status, Nancy has some helpful and timely words for you today. Grab a paper and pen and get ready to write down a list of benefits from 1 Corinthians 7 that might just change your life. Here's Nancy continuing in a series called Singleness, Burden or Blessing?

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: If you are a single woman who has a desire to be married, chances are you have spent some time thinking about the benefits and blessings of marriage. But have you ever stopped to make a list of the blessings and benefits of singleness?

We are talking this week about the gift of singleness--the gift that a lot of people aren't sure they want. But the Scripture says that marriage is a gift in the will of God, that singleness is a gift in the will of God and that both those gifts have their challenges.

They both have areas where sacrifice, suffering and surrender are required. But they both have benefits and blessings. The danger is that we would tend to focus on the benefits and blessings of the gift we don't have. We're conscious of the gift someone else has and the benefits and blessings they have. And we tend to focus on the suffering and the challenges that we have with our gift.

If we were to talk to the married woman, we would probably find that she's focusing on the challenges of her gift and focusing on the blessings and benefits we have with our gift of singleness. So it's important, if we are single, to take some time to think about what are the blessings and benefits that we have as singles? Again we want to go back to the Word of God to get our perspective.

We've been in the seventh chapter of 1 Corinthians this week, and we are picking up in verse 25 today where Paul begins to address singles specifically. He says "Now about virgins" (those who are not married), "I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord's mercy is trustworthy." Paul is saying the Lord Jesus didn't specifically address this topic. But he has given me direction and insight and wisdom that I am going to share with you as the apostle Paul.

Now today we want to talk about some of the benefits and blessings that Paul outlines here beginning in verse 25. The first two, we want to look at in the session today. First of all he says that singleness provides freedom from certain kinds of pressures--verses 26 through 28.

Paul says that there are certain kinds of pressures in the world and there are certain kinds of pressures in marriage. Singleness gives us freedom from both of those. In the world first--verse 26 "Because of the present crisis I think that it is good for you to remain as you are. Are you married? Do not seek a divorce. Are you unmarried? Do not look for a wife. But if you do marry, you have not sinned." It's not more spiritual to be married. It's not more spiritual to be single. It's spiritual to do what God has called you to do for that season of life. He says, "and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned."

So Paul is saying that it is permissible to marry but it's not always advisable.

He talks about the present crisis in verse 26. He said that there is a crisis going on. Now he doesn't tell us what the crisis was and we don't really know. We do know that the early Church experienced intense early persecution, and that there were those (as the gospel was spreading) who had to travel as Paul did to preach the gospel and share their faith.

I think Paul is saying that there is some crisis going on now in the spread of the gospel or in the persecution that's taking place--where for some it's better to have a single life. There are some pressures in this world, some adversity, some problems that are going on in this world, that there are some benefits to being single.

We look around in our world. I think we are living very much in the end times. Things are coming to a head in this world. And Paul might say the same thing today. "Because of the present crisis, I think it is good for you to stay as you are. If you are single, there are some pressures that are going on in this world, that you will not have to experience in the same way that you would if you had to look out for yourself and a mate." So he says that you'll have freedom from those pressures.

Then he says in verse 28, "there are some pressures in marriage that if you don't get married you won't have to experience. You'll have freedom from some of those pressures." Verse 28, the second part, "those who marry will face many troubles in this life and I want to spare you this."

That word troubles is the Greek word flipsus. And it's a word that means, "to press together." He's saying that when you get married, you are going to have some pressures. You are going to be pressed together. Two people living together under the same roof requires surrender. It's a pressure.

I remember talking to a friend where she and her husband did not marry until they were in their 30's. I saw her after they had been married for a few months and I said, "Kathy, how's it going?"

She said--now this is a couple who had loved each other; they had both looked forward to marriage, they had wanted marriage, they were both committed Christians and her first sentence was "marriage is a crucifixion."

Now she didn't regret marrying David. They love each other--have now been married successfully for many years, but a successful marriage requires crucifixion. You have to die to your own rights, die to your own ways of doing things. I see some heads nodding. And they are probably women who are or have been married. Paul says, "this is not a slam on marriage, marriage is good."

Make sure, by the way, that you are not staying single because you want to avoid problems that maybe God wants you to experience in marriage. Singleness is not to be an escape, yet Paul says, "if you are called to be single and if God gives you that gift, there's some pressures you are going to avoid."

He's saying that marriage is not a cureall to all your troubles. In fact, marriage creates some problems. Let me say this, by the way, whatever kind of single person you are--you are likely to be the same kind of person once you are married. Becoming married doesn't automatically make you a different kind of person. So my counsel to single women is to deal with your issues while you are single.

If you ever intend to be married or if you think God ever intends to have you married, make sure you deal with those issues and don't think that marriage is going to deal with those issues. Marriage will only bring those issues to the surface and make them more obvious.

Now, Paul is not saying that there aren't pressures with being single; he's just saying that there are some pressures that as a single you will not experience. Then Paul says "there's another benefit and blessing of marriage and that is you are able to focus on eternity--to live more in light of eternity.

Verse 29 he says, "What I mean brothers is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of this world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away."

If you have been to a play that has a lot of different scenes, you know that sometimes between the scenes they'll bring in a new set of scenery to show you that the setting has changed. And you will have stage hands who will take the sets on and off the stage. He says that this world is like a changing set on a stage. This world is passing away and Paul is saying, "I want you to prepare for the eternal world, the heavenly world where the scene is unchanging where you will live forever."

I love that little stanza of Amy Carmichael--the single woman who went as a missionary to India. She said that

All that grieves is but for a moment.
All that pleases is but for a moment.
Only the eternal is important.

Did you get that? Singleness has things about it that grieve us. Marriage has things about it that grieve people who are married. But she said that everything that grieves us is just lasting for a moment. It is not permanent. Singleness and marriage both have things about them that are pleasant--are joyous and are great to experience. But, she says, "all that pleases is but for a moment. So don't hold on too tightly. Only the eternal is important."

 

My dad used to have on his desk a little piece of marble with a verse etched on it. And when he died, I got this piece. It was a verse I heard him quote--not a Bible verse--but a piece of poetry I heard him quote many times over the years.

Only one life twill soon be passed;
Only what's done for Christ will last.

Paul is saying that the time is short. Eternity is long.

Jesus is coming. So live your life now as a single in light of eternity. And realize that if you are single, you have an opportunity, as he is going to say later in this passage, to do some things in light of eternity that perhaps you couldn't do if you were married.

Remember that marriage is not permanent. Now it is as far as this life is concerned. But the Scripture says that in heaven there is no marriage. Marriage is a picture here on this earth of an eternal reality--and that is Christ's love for His Church and the redemptive plan of God. But marriage is not eternal. It's for this life only. It's a temporal, passing relationship so don't pin all your hopes on getting something that is passing away, that you are not going to have forever.

Now to have those desires for marriage is not wrong. But to let those desires control my life and to begin to pine away and to be discontent--to waste one day with discontent--seems to me to be a great sin and a great tragedy, a great loss to waste the opportunity that God is giving you and me right now to serve Him.

So say, "Thank You, Lord. The time is short, eternity is long and I want to live my life in such a way that when I stand before You in eternity, I'll have something to show for my life. Not that I spent my life wasting away, pining away, wanting something You didn't give me, but that I received the blessings and benefits of what You did give me. And I've made something out of that gift, and now I give it back to You for all of eternity.

Leslie Basham: That's Nancy Leigh DeMoss helping singles learn to be content with the gift God has given them. She'll be right back to close our time in prayer.

After listening today you may be inspired to live a contented life but in a couple of days those old feelings of discouragement may return. That's why you need the truth within arms' reach. We hope that you will get a copy of our current series as a reminder of the kind of content, godly woman you want to be. The cassette is called Singleness, Burden or Blessing? and it's available from our Resource Center when you call 1-800-569-5959.

Did you know that Revive Our Hearts is supported by the people who listen? If you value the kind of teaching that you hear from Nancy DeMoss, then your donation is especially meaningful. We'd love to hear from you.

When you send a gift of any size, we'd like to show our appreciation by sending you a booklet that goes along with our series. It's called Singled Out for Him. You can also send a donation via the Web site at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Well, if being content as a single woman seems difficult to imagine, then be sure and tune in tomorrow when we'll hear about a college student who has learned the power of contentment. Now here's Nancy to close us in prayer.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Thank You, Lord, that You have given us the opportunity--many of us, to serve You as single women. Forgive us for our foolishness, sometimes for wasting hours, days, weekends, evenings pining away for something we wish we had and think would make us happy if we had it. Thank You for Your Word that tells us there are some blessings and some benefits that we can have as single women. I pray that You will help us to embrace those, to thank You for them and to make the most of them. I pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

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

 

 

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