Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Singleness: Burden or Blessing?, Part 6

Leslie Basham: Have you ever wondered that if you focus on God instead of finding a husband, that when Mr. Right does come along, you might lose him altogether?

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: You see, singleness is a call. It's an assignment. It's a mission. It's a call to serve God with all my time, all my abilities and all my energies.

Leslie Basham: It's Thursday, August 8; and this is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

There are many things we are willing to trust God for--our food, our health and even our finances. But can God really be trusted with our love life? We may give lip service to that, but our actions and attitudes often tell a different story. And it's that same conflict that the apostle Paul confronted the singles with at the church of Corinth. Today Nancy will tell us what advice Paul gave.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Sometime ago, I got a letter from a gal who was a senior in college. She had just read a little booklet I've written called Singled Out For Him, and she had listened to some tapes of some other radio broadcasts that I had done on this subject.

And after she had listened to those tapes, she wrote me and said, "Nancy, I feel so free. I now understand that singleness and marriage are both gifts from God. I am currently single," she said, "and I'm watching my friends get engaged and married. I used to think, When will my prince come riding on a white horse and sweep me off my feet? He has!"

She's talking about her relationship with the Lord Jesus. She said, "I feel so privileged to be single. Privileged to be betrothed to the King of Kings without distraction. I thank God it is so freeing to embrace my singleness. Not only to accept it, but to rejoice in it."

You know, if there's something I desire for those of us who are in this room who are single, it's first that we would accept the gift of singleness. But then, also, that we would come to rejoice in that gift for as long as God gives it. And let me say, by the way, that if you're married, my prayer for you is that you would come to accept the person that God has married you to at this season of married of life. And that you would come to rejoice in that season of life.

We've been looking at 1 Corinthians, chapter 7, over the past several session;, and we're looking at the benefits and blessings that Paul says those who are single can experience. I think it's important to focus on these because we tend to focus on the things that are hard about singleness. And there are things that are hard about singleness.

There are things that are hard about marriage. There are things that are hard about having children. There are things that are hard about not having children. And things that are hard about being young. And things that are hard about being old. And things that are hard about living in the North, and things that are hard about living in the South. Life is hard. But Paul says, "Don't focus on what's hard. Focus on the blessings and the benefits."

So it begins in verse 32 of 1 Corinthians 7, and he says that if you are single, you have a freedom to worship and serve the Lord in a different way than you could if you were married. Now, it's not that people who are married can't worship and serve the Lord, they can. But he said that the way you can serve the Lord is different if you are single than if you are married.

Let's read the passage then talk about it.

1 Corinthians 7, beginning in verses 32-34, NIV, Paul says, "I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs--how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world--how he can please his wife--and his interests are divided."

And by the way, a married man should have divided interests. He should be concerned about how he can please his wife. That's right. That's appropriate.

Then he talks about women. He says, "An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs" (v. 34). She has a single focus or she should. Her aim, he says, is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit.

"But," he says, "a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world--how she can please her husband" (v. 34). And she should be. Once you get married, you will have divided affections. That doesn't mean you can't love both the Lord and your husband. But it means you cannot love the Lord in the same way that you were able to when you were single.

It goes on to say in verse 35, "I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you." The word restrict has to do with something like putting a noose around your neck. "I'm not trying to put you in bondage," he's saying, "this is for your good." This is so "you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord."

Another translation says, "That you may serve the Lord without distraction" (NKJV).

Paul says that this is a blessing and a benefit of being single. And I've been conscious of this since the time I was probably a little girl, certainly since the time I was a young woman, that there was a privilege that I have had as a single woman to serve the Lord with undistracted devotion. To serve Him without distraction.

I was able to be up studying this morning at 1:20 in the morning for this series. I was able to arrange my schedule and rearrange my schedule without having to try and figure out how to work around someone else's schedule. There's greater flexibility of my schedule to do the things that God has called me to do. To serve Him. To worship Him. I can sing to the Lord anytime, anyplace and no one is in my house listening. I don't have to work my schedule and my worship and my service around the schedule of someone else.

Now if you're married, it's not bad to have to do that. And remember, Paul says in this passage, "If you marry, you haven't sinned" (v. 36). It's not more spiritual to be single. It's not more spiritual to be married. It's more spiritual to do what God has called you to do, and what God has called you to do right now is be single, if you are single, and to serve Him with undistracted devotion.

This passage says to me that singleness provides a unique opportunity to pursue Christ with all my heart, with all my life. To give wholehearted undistracted devotion to the Lord. I got an e-mail from a twenty-four-year-old single woman who had heard me speak on the radio on this subject on another series of broadcasts.

And she said, "I've been discouraged with my singleness. Yearning to find my Mr. Right and get married. Your insights have opened my eyes and helped me see how I can be using my singleness to be a witness for God. I now realize that by being single, I am not being punished. But instead I am being blessed by having time to spend on God's work. To grow in Him and to bless others with His love."

She continues: "I see now that I'd been selfish wanting only what the world tells me I need to be happy and fulfilled--a husband and a family. I'm now working on spending my time trying to love others and to serve them as Christ would. It's tough to give myself over completely to Him when I still yearn to be married, but I'm praying continually that He will help me to become the person He desires me to be, while I am still single. And then I don't have the responsibilities that I would have if I were married. Please pray that I will be able to humble myself to live for Christ and to serve Him through my singleness."

And I think of so many single woman that I've read about and known myself over the years, who have used their singleness as an opportunity to serve the Lord in a way that a married person could not.

You've heard, perhaps, the story of Amy Carmichael who chose a life of celibacy to serve God in India for fifty some years. She became a mother to many children in that country who otherwise would have become temple prostitutes. She laid down her life. She lived a purposeful life as a single, serving and loving the Lord. And today we are still being blessed and encouraged by her writings and her testimony, her story.

I think of some of the single women that I serve with in Life Action Ministries where I've been a part of that ministry for over twenty years. And I think of Monica and Sandra and Joanna, single women in their twenties, their thirties and into their forties, who, some of them would have deep in their heart, as most single woman do, a desire for marriage and for children. And if God gives that to them, they will embrace that as God's gift. But they're not pining away waiting for something that isn't now. They're serving the Lord.

I think of FamilyLife that produces this program and Back to the Bible that's a part of our radio partnership. And single women I've met in all of these ministries who are making good use of these single years and serving the Lord with an undistracted devotion in a way that they couldn't do as easily if they had the responsibilities of marriage.

You see, singleness is a call. It's an assignment. It's a mission. It's a call to serve God with all my time, all my abilities and all my energy.

Now, God may call you to serve Him out in the marketplace where you work as a nurse or in administration or in some particular field where you've had training. In the secular marketplace, that may be where God calls you to serve Him. But I want to say that God is probably calling some of you as single women to consider serving Him vocationally.

And I think of some women that I've met over the years who had promising careers, lucrative careers, secure jobs who at some point sensed that God wanted something more for them. That God wanted them to serve Him vocationally. And the point came when they said, "Yes, Lord. You've given me this gift of singleness. And I want to use this opportunity and this season of my life to serve You, maybe using those skills that I've gotten through my education, my experience but using those skills in a ministry context."

Let me tell you, there is work to do. There are ministries that desperately need women who have time to devote to the kingdom of Christ. And I just wonder if maybe some of you in this room are among those women.

Whether you're out in the secular marketplace or in a vocational ministry, let me say, it's still God's purpose as a single woman that you should devote your life, your whole heart, your time, your energy and your efforts to serving the Lord. Singleness is not a time to be footloose and fancy-free. It's a time to serve the Lord with undistracted devotion.

Leslie Basham: What a great challenge Nancy Leigh DeMoss has given us all today. That spiritual service is for everyone. And the more time you can give, the more responsibility you have to serve.

One way to remind yourself of what you've heard today is to get a copy of our current series on cassette. Ask for Singleness: Burden or Blessing? when you call us at 1-800-569-5959.

I'd also like to encourage you to support this program financially. A gift of any size is appreciated. In fact, we'd like to say thank you for your generosity by sending a booklet called Singled Out For Him.

You can mail your donation to Revive Our Hearts. You can also send your support via the Web site at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Tomorrow Nancy looks at the foundation for everything we've been learning this week about singleness. We hope you can be here. And now, here's Nancy to close us in prayer.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Lord, thank You for each of the women in this place. And I don't know who You may be calling out in a particular way, but I know that Your Word has said that all of us have to serve You with undistracted devotion through that period of time that we're single. To attend to You and Your work in a way that we couldn't do if we were married.

Lord, I pray that You would give us that heart. And I pray for that woman, one or two or three or more in this room, that You may be calling out to a life of vocational Christian service. Would You just continue to speak to their heart, to use Your Word and Your Spirit to direct and to lead and to show Your path. Show that woman or those women how they can make the most of the opportunities that You have given them during this season of singleness.

Thank You, Lord, for letting us serve You. For calling us and giving us that assignment, that mission and for making our singleness purposeful. I pray in Jesus' name, with thanksgiving. Amen.

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

 

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