Sometimes life gives you a gift that you want to lose but you have to use.
Do you view singleness as a gift? Sometimes we receive gifts that we don’t want to use, don’t know how to use, or don’t even want to possess. I am afraid many of us feel this way about singleness. We don’t know what to do with it, we don’t know why we’re stuck with it, and we just want to get rid of it.
The Apostle Paul saw singleness as a gift. In 1 Corinthians 7:7–9, he says “I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”
Pastor J.P. Pokluda from Harris Creek Baptist in Texas said about singleness “sometimes life gives you a gift that you want to lose but you have to use.” Singleness is a gift from God.
If singleness is a gift, then how do we use this gift?
In 1 Corinthians 7:32–35, Paul says “I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.”
The most important relationship that we can ever pursue is our relationship with God. Singleness teaches us about the sufficiency of Christ. He alone satisfies. Until Jesus is enough for us, no person, relationship, or marriage will ever be. Singleness is a unique time to pursue undivided devotion to the Lord. Contentment in life comes when we find our worth, identity, purpose, and satisfaction in Christ alone.
To the single person reading this, I encourage you to “set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). Singleness is a unique opportunity to demonstrate to the church and the world that Christ is sufficient. Marriage is not the most important thing ever, Jesus is. We exist to live in relationship with Him, enjoy Him, and bring glory to Him.
Whether we are single, dating, or married let us “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). No matter what your relationship status is, we are called to be satisfied in Him, devoted to Him, and abiding in Him. Singleness is a gift, a unique opportunity to pursue undivided devotion to Christ. Let’s use this gift for the glory of God.
Constructing A Christ-Exalting Home
Proverbs 24:3 says, “By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established.” Building a house takes wisdom. Building a house takes intentionality. Building a house takes partnership. How much more a Christ-exalting home?!
How is a biblical—Christ-exalting—home constructed? A Christ-exalting home is certainly not the standard option. It’s not the default model. It is intentional and premeditated. The home on its own tends toward chaos, not Christ.
A family that functions biblically and intentionally does not happen haphazardly. Wisdom, intentionality, and partnership are needed. Where will parents receive the tools they need? Or can they just subcontract the work out and have someone else deal with the messy issues of building up a family?
My goal here is not to layout the “blue print” for exactly what the house should look like. That is not my job. My desire is to point you to the crucial need that we all have to build on the firm bedrock of Christ. I can’t build it for you. But I can and must tell you to center your family’s life on Christ!
Designer Sex (part 2)
Redemption: Romance Rebuilt
The world is broken but Christ came to redeem and fix it. Yet we live in the “already and not yet,” the time in between. We have the down payment and first fruits of all that is to come but Christ’s Kingdom hasn’t come to full affect yet. However, we do see what it means to truly love.
In Ephesians 5 we see an amazing picture of how a husband and wife are to relate to each other. We see a paradigm to build upon. We see love, respect, and mutual concern. We see the things that fell out with the Fall of humanity.
We need instruction. We need to be reminded that sex is a gift from God and not god. We need God to help us.
“God wants married couples to know that sex is his gift to them. And God does not give gifts to people so they won’t enjoy them. If God gives you steak he wants you to savor it. If he gives you wine, he wants you to enjoy it. And when he gives a couple sex in the covenant of marriage, he wants them to indulge in it. The NIV translates the end of Song of Solomon 5:1 this way: ‘Drink your fill of love.” Why would he tell us to drink up if he didn’t want us to be fully satisfied?”[i]
So often Christians are known for being boring and unable to enjoy things. But that just isn’t the case. We should be “known for saying ‘do’—do look, do touch, do indulge, do enjoy sexual relations within marriage.”[ii]
Our loving Father has created many good gifts to be received with thanksgiving (1 Tim. 4:3-4). “God is not stingy with joy when it comes to sexuality. If he gives you a gift, he wants you to enjoy it as it is designed to be enjoyed, which will ultimately lead to your satisfaction, not only with the gift itself but also with himself as the Giver.”[iii]
The Bible teaches that sex is not only a gracious gift but that pure passion is protection against impure passion (Cf. 1 Cor. 7:9).[iv] We see this in various places. Proverbs 5:15-23 says,
“Drink water from your own cistern,
flowing water from your own well.
Should your springs be scattered abroad,
streams of water in the streets?
Let them be for yourself alone,
and not for strangers with you.
Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
a lovely deer, a graceful doe.
Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight;
be intoxicated always in her love.
Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman
and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?
For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the LORD,
and he ponders all his paths.
The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him,
and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.
He dies for lack of discipline,
and because of his great folly he is led astray.”
“Failing to structure frequent sexual activity into your companionship may open you for Satan’s temptations.”[v] Paul says, “Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control” (1 Cor. 7:5).
However, that does not mean that we have an excuse for sexual sin if we feel like we have been deprived. This passage is not to be used to hold over your spouse’s head to tell them that they have to have sex with you.
New Creation: Our Longings Fulfilled
Sex is great and I thank God for it. But sex is not what life is about. God is what life is about. And soon we shall see Him face to face. Sex is an empty trace of the connection we long for, all the good that we enjoy is a mere pointer. It points us to God for whom we long to unite in fellowship with.
“Sex is a blessing from God. But sex is more than that. It is also a bridge to God. What I mean is that even the highest pleasures are sweetest intimacies are designed to leave us wanting something more. Sex creates a hunger for something infinitely more beautiful, pleasurable, and satisfying: God!”[vi]
Truly, what we as humans “crave more than anything else is to be intimately close to the God who made us.”[vii]
As I said, we are in the “already and not yet.” We have the first fruits but not the consummation. Though we can even now have fellowship with God through the work of Jesus and the presence of the Holy Spirit we still see God in a mirror dimly. We long for our faith to be sight.
In the the beginning Adam and Eve had fellowship with God and with each other. After the Fall the world fell apart, and like Humpty Dumpty it couldn’t be put back together again. Until Christ came. Christ put the world back together. He gave us something that sex could never give: restored fellowship with God.
Brothers and sisters, let’s not get the gift mixed up with God the Giver. Let’s not look for sex to fill the infinite hole that only the Infinite One can fill. It is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, the One who created sex and every good gift, and holds every speck of stellar dust in the universe in His hand that fulfills and gives true life. In His presence there is fullness of joy. At His right hand their are pleasures forevermore (Ps. 16:11).
[i] Chandler, The Mingling of Souls, 139
[ii] O’Donnell, The Song of Solomon, 131.
[iii] Chandler, The Mingling of Souls, 139.
[iv] O’Donnell, The Song of Solomon, 107.
[v] Rosenau, A Celebration of Sex, 5. “Satan tempts and destroys many marriages by extreme inhibitions, extramarital affairs, and other sexual distortions. Often it is subtle drifting apart and a lack of warm, connecting companionship. God has given spouses something precious in the ability as husband and wife to share a physical intimacy that cannot be matched in any other relationship. There is no replacement for what God intended sex to be for intimate marriages. It is a framework for expressing many powerful emotions, like joy, love, trust, and playfulness… Spouses who frequently play together sexually stay together in warm, bonded ways” (Ibid.).
[vi] O’Donnell, The Song of Solomon, 83.
[vii] Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage, 24.
If you are like me, you have had times when you have thought that good communication is not possible. You may have even said, “We’re too different,” “We just think on different wavelengths,” or “I can’t stand that person.” However, the truth is we can have good communication and further Scripture tells us to (see for example Eph. 4:25, 29, 31-32; Ps. 141:3; Prov. 18:13, 17; 21:23; 25:11). I have been reading a little pamphlet by Stuart Scott called Communication and Conflict Resolution, and yes, I am mainly reading it for my own marriage but I hope that this helps you as well; at work, at home, and aboard.
There are many negative effects to poor communication. I could list them but I am sure that you acutely feel many of them already. However, I will remind you, and myself, that our horizontal relationships between friends and family are not the only relationship effected by our communication. Our vertical relationship with God can also be greatly effected by our communication. If we dishonor God by what we say it hinders not only human fellowships but also our fellowship with God (cf. Matt. 5:23-24). If we speak unkindly or lie to someone that is also not a good testimony before an unbelieving world. However, the opposite is also true, we can greatly honor God by our communication with our fellow humans. All of this is to say that there is more at stake than just being polite or culturally appropriate in our communication (see James 3:5-6 to be reminded of the importance of what we say).
As we think about communication; what we say, and how we say it. We must understand why we say it, i.e. where it comes from. So, where does it come from? The Bible says that what we say comes out of our heart (cf. Matt. 12:34). From the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. Thus, it is vital that we not merely fix what people say (the external) and gloss over what is going on inside (the internal).
Stuart Scott gives six prerequisites to good communication that don’t gloss over what is going on inside. I will give each of his points with Scripture reference:
1. You must want to please God more than anything else (2 Cor. 5:9). Our desire in conversation must not be to make much of ourselves, to prove we’re right, but to honor and make much of God.
2. You must be humble (Eph. 4:1-3). We must realize that we are sinful and it is very likely that we have done wrong. We must acknowledge that even if we have not done wrong in this particular instance, we have before and we will again soon.
3. You must be aware that you are accountable to God for everything you communicate (Matt. 12:36). As we talk, no matter the conversation, we should not take it lightly for we will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ to give an account.
4. You must know how to listen (Prov. 18:13; James 1:19). Not only should we attentively listen to others because it is the right thing to do, not only because it is in line with the Golden Rule, but because without it there can be no meaningful conversation.
5. You must know that communication involves more than just words (James 4:17). Whether we know it or not, or like it or not, the volume of our voice, the gestures of our hands, the ruling of our eyes, the posture of our body, and numerous other things communicate to people.
6. You must be willing to put forth the effort and spend the time it takes to communicate (Rom. 12:10-12). In Romans, we are told to be “devoted to one another.” This devotion takes time and intentionality.
Scott also gave four specific principals for biblical communication: 1) Speak the truth (Eph. 4:25, 29-32), 2) Speak with purpose (1 Cor. 10:31; Eph.4:29; Col. 4:6), 3) Speak clearly (Prov. 10:19; 15:28; Matt. 5:37), and 4) Speak at the right time (Prov. 25:11).
There is a lot more that I could say and a lot more that Scott said that was helpful. However, I think a good start is simply realizing that good communication is important and something that the Bible is not silent on. Second, good communication is something that we must be intentional about. It takes time. It takes work.
Take time now and evaluate your communication. Will you put these points into practice to improve your communication? Will you honor God by working at communication?