Today on Summit Life with J.D.
Greer. Lonely, insecure, bored, unhappy single people become lonely, insecure, bored, unhappy married people. In fact, they usually get worse because problems like loneliness and boredom and insecurity and unhappiness are not cured by another human being. They're only cured by the love of Jesus Christ. The arms that you are searching for in your life to find all these things, they're not his arms or her arms.
They're his arms. Welcome to Summit Life with pastor and author J.D. Greer. I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. Okay, let me be honest with you. If you're looking for something to satisfy the deep needs of your soul, spoiler alert, you aren't going to find it in marriage. And in fact, you won't find it in singleness either.
You're only going to find it in Jesus and his love for you. Today, Pastor J.D. wants to help believers know when it's the right time to be married, because God created us for a relationship. But he also wants us to understand that the ultimate place you can find companionship is in the church. And if you missed the beginning of this sermon yesterday, you can always catch up online free of charge at JDCreer.com.
But right now let's pick up where we left off in First Corinthians chapter seven. Here's Pastor J.D. Singleness is a gift that can free you up for mission. So it's no wonder Paul says, verse seven, I wish that all people were like me. There'll be so much extra bandwidth in the church for ministry. Singleness and marriage both are gifts.
They both have their advantages and disadvantages. Number three, the first consideration for should I get married is do I have the gift? That's the million dollar question, right? How do you know if you have the gift? I've told you before, lamented that right after my wife and I got engaged, we took one of these spiritual gifts tests.
I was so excited about it. We're going to figure out where we fit in ministry. Her number one gift comes back as singleness.
We just got engaged. I was like, that doesn't bode well. Not against spiritual gifts tests.
We even use them here sometimes. But first you need to realize that most people have a wrong conception of spiritual gifts in general. Most people assume that a spiritual gift is some kind of lifelong assignment, like an identity that God stamps you with when you leave heaven, like a personality trait. You know, like, oh, this person is an evangelist. This person is going to be prophecy.
This person is going to be, you know, it's not what he does. And especially is not true of the gifts of marriage and singleness. A spiritual gift, charisma is a special empowerment that comes on you for a time for some spiritual assignment. It's going to change throughout your life, most of these gifts.
They come on you for a time and then on your assignment and they go out. All of us are single for a time, which means that all of us for a time have the gift of singleness and God will give us the spiritual empowerment, the gifting to do it well. You're not supposed to look within and mystically try to discern if you've got the gift of singleness.
Don't make it complicated. If you're single, you have the gift of singleness, at least for the moment. How do I know? Because you're single and God will empower you to do it well. And if you're married, you have the gift of marriage and you can know that because you're married. Even if you feel like your marriage was a mistake, you have the gift now and God will give you the spiritual power to do it well. You say, well, okay, wait a minute. I'm single now, but I'm wondering if marriage might be a gift that God is planning to give me in the future.
How can I tell that? Well, there's no sure way to know, but Paul does give you a clue in verse nine. It is better, he says, it is better to marry than to be a flame with passion. Paul says, if as you pray about it, your desires to be married burn inside of you.
It's okay to ask God for a spouse to meet those needs, but it could be that in praying about it, God answers that prayer by giving you the ability to control yourself without marriage, or he might take away the desire to be married altogether, or he might have another desire grow stronger in your heart than to be married and it would actually be advantageous to be single to pursue this other thing. I had a friend who prayed about getting married because she thought that's what good Christian girls do. She said, but the more I prayed about it, the less desire I had to get married and the more my passion for a particular ministry grew. She said, I always felt guilty about that and I never wanted to talk about it, like there was something wrong with me. She said, but then I studied 1 Corinthians seven and realized that this was all from God.
And she said, it felt like such a relief. Paul, who had the gift of singleness describes himself like this, verse 37, whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity, but having his desire under control. You see those phrases, firmly established, under no necessity, being able to control his desire, he will do well. If you're single, is that you?
Do those phrases describe you? If so, well, you might have the gift of singleness, at least for the time being and maybe for the future. You should take advantage of that.
If you're not like that, yeah, it's okay. Ask God for a spouse. Paul's like, look, this is not mystical. This is really between you and God.
In fact, when you read this chapter, he's kind of flipping about it. Look, verse 36, if any man feels like he should marry, he can do what he wants. Verse 39, but if a wife husband dies, she's free to be married to anyone she wants, but she's happier she remains as she is, in my opinion.
Translation, don't make it hard. Pray about it, that God leads you through your desires and your circumstances. Sometimes you may desire it and God just, you know, circumstantially, it's not happening.
And that's like him. You're in a fasting season, fasting from, you know, marriage. And God's going to work in that like he does. You need to trust that where God leads you, he will also gift and empower you because they are spiritual gifts. No, you don't have the ability to be single well. You don't have the ability to be married well. Like the Holy Spirit has the ability in him for you to do both those things well. So number four, the second consideration for should I get married is, is it the right time?
The second consideration for should I get married is, is it the right time? There's a really another interesting verse in this chapter that really confuses people, but when you understand it in context, it totally makes sense. All right. Hang with me because it's gonna be like, what in the world does this mean for me?
I'll show you. Verse 26, I think Paul says that in view of the present distress, it's good for a person to remain as he or she is. So he goes on to say, if married, stay married, you're single, remain single. And at first, it sounds like Paul is telling all single people everywhere, don't ever seek to get married. But that's not what Paul is saying.
Paul says the key phrase in view of the present distress, remain as you are. Paul was writing this in a particular era of history where persecution against Christians was at a fever pitch. Christian families were being torn apart and sold into slavery. They were about to be blamed for the burning of Rome.
They're gonna be fed to the lions. It's difficult to go through persecution as a single person, but when you are married and you've got kids, your worldly troubles multiply. So Paul was like, look, in light of all this persecution, in light of families getting torn apart, now is not a great time to get married and have kids.
I'd say it'd be better if you just kind of stay where you are. But that was then, and this is now. Currently, we are not in a particularly persecuted moment.
So I believe, based on what I read here in 1 Corinthians 7, that in this context, Paul would encourage marriage more than he did in that Corinthian one. You say, well, that's great. What does that mean for me? Here's what it means. Watch. There can be situations, eras, seasons in your life that may make it more advantageous for you to wait, even if in another situation you might desire to be married.
The whole group was in one last sight, but it could be true for you individually. For example, in a season where you're trying to finish your education or trying to get established in your career, the book of Proverbs says, establish your work in the field. Afterward, build your house. In other words, guys, get a job. Get a job and establish your career. Then it's actually easier to bring somebody that you're going to be a support to and all that.
You bring them into that. Maybe God has called you to focus on a mission assignment, or maybe you need time to heal from something. Maybe there's some kind of trauma, some kind of past devastation, some breakup, and you just need time to heal. During those seasons where it is wise to wait, you can trust that God is going to give you the spiritual gifting to wait. One of the reasons, by the way, that it's helpful to be involved in a close church community like we want you to have here is that other people can help you see when those times are so that you can live wisely within them, which leads to number five. When it is time, Paul would say, don't wait. I love what Paul says in verse 36. Verse 36, if anyone thinks he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, toward the girl that he's going to marry, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes.
Let him marry. It is no sin, but whatever you do, whatever you do. Verse 37, Paul says, whatever you do, be firmly established. Now, let me follow Paul's lead here for a moment and talk to the guys since guys are typically the ones to take initiative in relationships.
That was true in Corinth, and it's mostly true today. Guys, Paul is saying to you, listen, be firmly established. Are you going to marry her or not? Don't be a jerk and flirt and call and hang out with her and lead her on if you don't even know what your intentions are. Well, I'm just figuring it out. No, you are leading her on. You are being cruel. You are keeping her close enough to enjoy her without having to commit anything to her.
That is the opposite of Jesus-like love. You are taking and not giving. Stop it. Make up your mind.
Be firmly established. If there is a girl that you want to ask out, ask her out. A lot of our Christian sisters have complained to me about what they call the Christian sneak-a-date thing. Ladies, you know where they figure out how to go out with you and how to be a part of your small group and how to show up in social circles without ever having to man up and go through the danger of asking you out. Oh, look, we're here together again. The sneak-a-date, right?
Or I've heard it referred to as the friend-ationship where you spend so much time together that it's like your boyfriend and girlfriend, but you've never actually talked about it because talking involves risk and potential awkwardness, and you're not man enough to go through that awkwardness. Stop it. Be a man. Be firmly established.
Part of me does not even want to know who is clapping right now, but we're just going to let it be, okay? If you are engaged, don't keep a ring on her finger with an elusive promise of marriage way out there somewhere in the wild blue yonder. Either marry her or don't. Don't string her along.
Be firmly established. Guys, if you know it's not time for you to get married, be firmly established and don't lead her on. Get on with what God is doing in your singleness and let God get on with what he's doing in hers. Girls, you also, don't lead the guy on. Dating is a road that leads to marriage. If you're not ready for the destination, stay off the road. Paul would say be firmly established.
Don't wait. Now, guys, lest you misunderstand me, this is one of those caveats that I feel like I have to say, so I'm going to say it. I'm not saying you need to move super quickly and drop the marriage card on your first date. Being firmly established and being creepy are not the same things, amen? And if she says no, she says no, you got to respect that, right? Listen, Christian, we can take creepy to whole new levels. Hounding a girl after she says no and then playing the God card? Oh, God told me to ask you out. God's not asking her out.
You're asking her out, okay? That is not the way to the blessing of God. It is the way to get slapped with a restraining order, one that I will be in support of, okay? So be wise. You're listening to Summit Life with J.D. Greer, and we trust that today's message has been an encouragement to you.
But before we get back to it, I want to take a moment and tell you about a brand new resource that you won't want to miss. Pastor J.D. Greer has just released his latest book titled Essential Christianity, The Heart of the Gospel in 10 Words. He draws on passages from Romans 1 through 12 to provide a deep understanding of the Christian message in a very approachable way. Are you struggling to understand the basics of the gospel, or do you have a friend who's searching for answers? This new book will help you, or someone you know, better understand the gospel message and how it addresses life's most pressing questions.
Order your copy of Essential Christianity today by visiting our friends at thegoodbook.com slash essential dash Christianity, or wherever you get your books. Now let's return for the conclusion of our teaching. Once again, here's Pastor J.D. Number six. Number six, Paul is saying reject the e-harmony myth. Now, he didn't use those words. Those are my words.
And let me explain this. There's nothing wrong with e-harmony per se. But the myth behind e-harmony is that if you can just find the perfect person, oh, you'll be happy, right?
And so you see the pictures on the website, people smiling, and I want that life. Oh, if I could just find the right person, then I'd be happy. And if you're unhappy right now, oh, finding the perfect person, that will fix all that. And if you're married and unhappy right now, well, that's because you got married to the wrong person. Here's the truth. Romance and marriage will never satisfy the deepest needs of your soul. I have said this before.
Let me say it again. But for most single guys, it's like in their singleness, they're drowning in a sea of loneliness and insecurity and despair and boredom. And along by floats a five-foot-two blonde-headed life preserver.
What does a drowning man do with a life preserver? You cling to it and you hold it tight and you can't let it go. Here's what I've noticed after a couple decades of just watching marriages. Lonely, insecure, bored, unhappy single people become lonely, insecure, bored, unhappy married people. In fact, they usually get worse because problems like loneliness and boredom and insecurity and unhappiness. They're not cured by another human being. They're only cured by the love of Jesus Christ. The arms that you are searching for in your life to find all these things, they're not his arms or her arms.
They're his arms. And let me let you in on a little secret, okay? And I say this with Veronica's permission. You always marry the wrong person. You're like, I married the wrong person.
Of course you did. First of all, the person you married is a sinner. That person that you are so infatuated with right now, if you're dating, that person was so bad that Jesus had to die a gory death to save them.
Pretty soon, you're going to figure out and it's not going to be awesome. I mean, if something in them was so messed up that it took Jesus's blood to fix it, you don't think it's going to cause you some mild irritation in your life. So yes, you married the wrong person because you married a sinner. Second, it's like I'll just say that even in a lifelong monogamous marriage, you end up being married to at least five different people over a lifetime because they change. You ask Veronica, you're like, did you marry the, was JD the right guy? She's like, which one?
Which one? So if you married the right person at the beginning, soon they're going to change and then they're not the right person. You see, you always marry the wrong person because marriage is not about giving you some kind of soulmate that completes you.
That's for Jesus. Marriage is about learning to love another sinner like Jesus has loved you. And see, if you're the eHarmony myth, if your marriage depends on finding the right person, that's going to lead you to a terrible captivity because you're always going to be terrified that you're never going to find the right person. And if you believe the eHarmony myth, if you are married, you're going to be terrified that you married the wrong one. So reject that eHarmony myth. I would say that's not even true. Just get that out.
Number seven, last one. Paul says, never settle. Never settle. Verse 39, Paul tells these singles, you can marry, but only in the Lord. Only in the Lord. If you get married, you should only do it in the Lord.
Means to another believer. Translation, you cannot, and you should not marry a non-Christian. So duh, you should not date a non-Christian. Why on earth would you lead each other on when it literally cannot work out?
I mean, it's almost kind of cruel, right? You can't control who you fall in love with, but you can control who you spend time with. And who you spend time with is who you're going to fall in love with. So if you don't want to fall in love with them and marry them, don't lead them on and date them. So yeah, if you're not going to marry a non-Christian, Paul says you shouldn't do that, don't date a non-Christian.
Ladies, let me talk to you specifically for a minute. This guy is going to be the biggest influence on your children. I would say maybe even more than you, he's going to be an influence on your children. Do not settle for a guy who will not lead them spiritually. Do not connect yourself to somebody who is going to one day, if you can look into the future and see the faces of your kids, who is going to take them away from the thing that is most important to you, which is Jesus.
Just about any married person will tell you it is far better to be single than to be married to somebody who does not share your core commitments. And I know, listen, I know that if you're sitting here right now and you're not a Christian, and you might feel like I'm being mean to you, like I'm saying that you're not good enough for them. I am not saying that.
In fact, I'm just trying to be practical, okay? I mean, for your sake, if you are not a Christian and you have no intention of becoming a Christian, do you really want to marry a Christian? Here's why I ask. You realize that that Christian that you're dating right now really wants to convert you. Like, how do you know?
You're here. Am I right? When your idea was their idea. And that's why the whole time while I'm talking, they keep cutting their eyes to see how you're reacting to what I'm saying. That's what they're doing right now.
And I'll take it up a level. Right now, their parents are praying for you. Their whole family is praying for you. They all know you're here this morning, and they're all praying for you. Their mom and dad are probably fasting for you right now, hoping that you'll become a Christian. And nobody in the family is ever going to be really happy until you become a Christian.
If you're not a Christian and you've got no intention of becoming one, do you really want to marry into a situation where nobody is going to be happy with you unless you become a Christian? Look, I'm just being honest with you, okay? I've observed this now for a lot of years. So see, there we go. There we go. Those are our seven countercultural statements that Paul would give us on sex and singleness.
So let me just bring it right back around to where we started. Marriage and singleness are gifts. They're temporary gifts for the fulfillment of God's purposes in your life. If you are looking for something to satisfy the deep needs of your soul, it's not going to be found in marriage. It's not going to be found in a new marriage.
You're going to find it in Jesus and his love for you. You say, well, yeah, that's good, but I don't want to be alone right now. I'm tired of being alone. You're not supposed to be alone. God created you for relationships.
True. He created you for companionship. But the only place, in fact, you might even argue not the primary place that you're going to find that is not necessarily in marriage or biological family. The place that you find it according to Jesus is in the church. Again, remember the statement from John Piper. Marriage is temporary.
But what it stands for lasts forever. Christ and the church. At which point marriage fades away, becomes unnecessary, but we have a picture of somebody you no longer need it when you finally see them face to face. If I could just say for my brothers and sisters, fellow believers, who struggle with a same-sex attraction, who feel like you can't be married, first, I want you to know that I know a lot of people with same-sex attraction who've gotten married to somebody of the opposite sex. God has enabled them to do that.
And they found a measure of healing. But for those of you that you just feel like, I can't, I can't, I want you to know that you can still have a full and meaningful life. Like I said, the most fulfilled, happy, joyful, perfect person who ever walked the face of the earth was 33 years old in celibate. God wants you to have deep and meaningful connections in the church.
So I'm telling you, invest deeply here. And to the church, to the married in the church, let me say this to you. We have a responsibility to singles in our midst, and that is to invite them into our families. First of all, to see them as the treasures that Paul said that they are. Do not treat them like a project that you need to fix. But you should be aware that their particular calling has some particular challenges, just like yours does. And so you should invite them into your family to experience relationships there.
Invite them to join you in key moments, not just to come over and babysit your kids or help you move, by the way. And all God single said, amen. That's right, okay? That's not, oh, we've got a single friend, it's time to move. Oh, we need a babysitter. Oh, let's have a single friend. In our family, we've had single friends from the church go on vacation with us. We've had them do Thanksgiving with us. We even had one a couple Christmases ago.
Spent last Christmas with us, stayed at our house on Christmas Eve, got up with us on Christmas morning. Singles, let me say to you, single people, the greatest, they say the greatest predictor of whether a child will continue on in the faith after high school, the number one predictor. You want to read it? Whether that child, as they go into college, has at least five adult relationships in the church outside of their parents. If you've got five or more that statistically, it's probably going to turn out okay. So what I'm saying to you, if you're single, if you don't have kids, be that for some other kids here.
I guarantee you there's a lot of parents that would love that. See, I want you to understand that God has a plan for you. This is the body of Christ. This is the eternal family.
This is what everything pointed toward. All these things were temporary shadows, but Christ, his relationship with you and his church, that's the real thing. Have you submitted your relationships and every part of your life to Christ? He can transform a willing heart into a force for his kingdom. All that that takes is surrender. You're listening to Summit Life, the Bible teaching ministry of pastor, author, and theologian J.D.
Greer. Today's message is part of our teaching series through 1 Corinthians called Cutting Through the Noise. Summit Life is entirely funded by listeners like you, so your giving really does make a difference, helping more people dive into the gospel message every day through the radio, podcast, and web. And I'd like to invite you to sign up today to be a monthly gospel partner.
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Sign up when you go to jdgreer.com. I'm Molly Vidovitch. So glad to have you with us today, and be sure to join us next week as we continue our series in 1 Corinthians called Cutting Through the Noise. We'll see you next time on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
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