So What if You’re Single

March 7th 2009

 

Opening

• Hey Everybody.

• In 8th Grade I got invited to a party.

• Not a bunch of my buddies playing sports and rough housing kind of party.

• No no. I got invited to a ‘there are going to be girls there’ kind of party.

• And we’re going to be attempting to have fun t o g e t h e r.

• This was a whole new concept to me in eight grade.

• I acknowledged that girls existed, I just didn’t know how to relate to them.

• So I go to the party. And I’m nervous, and I don’t know what to expect.

• And at the party we start playing games, like, indoor party games.

• And, surprisingly, it wasn’t as bad as I thought.

• We’re laughing, having fun, everybody’s getting along – great time, right? I was genuinely surprised. These girls aren’t as bad as I thought.

• And then, some person, some idiot, suggested we play a different game.

• A game that involved a bottle, and spinning, and people, 8th grade people, disappearing into a closet, and coming out red faced and embarrassed.

• (I had only heard stories, legends, I didn’t know it actually existed.)

• And for the next hour, it was like everything was in slow motion.

• With every spin of the bottle my stomach turned upside down.

• I prayed the most sincere prayers of my life up to that point.

• Dear God, please don’t let the bottle point at me. I’ll work with lepers, I’ll donate my left arm to someone who needs it. Anything God.

• And next thing I know it’s pointing at me!

• Why God? Don’t you love me?

• Slowly I rose from my place, and approached the door of death, scared and confused. I had no idea what I was supposed to do.

• Once inside, I puckered like I was kissing my mom, and planted one on her – right on her chin.

• I didn’t know you could feel embarrassment and relief at the same moment. I think she tried to go in for another attempt but I was out of there.

• But that awkward eight grade moment marked the dawn of a new age for me.

• I was thrust into the complex world of men, and women, and relationships. A world I’m still trying to understand.

• And just in case you haven’t figured this out yet, relationships between men and women aren’t easy.

• Which is why we’ve spent the last several weeks answering questions to help you build a right relationship with the opposite sex.

• But there’s one question we haven’t answered, one that I’ve asked, one that many of you’ve asked through the course of this series.

• So what if you’re single? Then what?

• What if you’re single?

• That’s the question we’re going to answer today.

• I did eventually get over that awkward 8th grade spin the bottle moment.

• Took me four years but eventually, when I was a senior in high school I tried kissing a girl for the second time, and this time, I didn’t kiss her chin.

• No no. Instead, this time, I landed it perfectly on her nostril.

• Right there, right on the nose.

• Unbelievable. I had only stepped up to the plate twice in four years, and both times I struck out completely.

• Now, you would think that this second traumatizing experience would have really slowed me down, but I as I entered college I came to the realization that despite my bad aim, I actually liked all the feelings and attraction, and the chase, involved in pursuing the opposite sex.

• So that’s what I did.

• I started dating. And I got good at it. I had a list of dates, combinations of activities, like a matrix, that I could mix together. I was good.

• It was like a dating color wheel. You want smooth and romantic, or romantic and rugged? You want fun and simple, or deep and mysterious.

• I could mix up one serious date combo.

• But there was this problem.

• Every time I started dating someone I dated her as if this were the last woman on earth.

• I didn’t reveal this to them, but in my mind I was picturing what our kids would look like, how tall they’d be, what house we’d live in; I was seeing how she measured up to my mom, because my mom was the gold standard, right?

• I went into these relationships thinking, ‘This is it! She’s the one!’ And two weeks later, I’m thinking, “This is not it, and she is definitely NOT the one.”

• Total nut job, right?

• Eventually, I hit the wall, you know?

• This isn’t working, and I knew it. Something was off. Something didn’t seem right.

• Everything in my culture is telling me that I need to be with someone, that dating is an important part of life, that I’m incomplete without someone on my arm, right?

• But this is not working. I don’t feel right, They don’t feel right.

• I’m bored. They’re heart broken. It’s not working.

• You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?

• Everything in our culture, everything in our world tells us that being in relationship with someone is what will make us happy, it’s what we’re supposed to do, it’s what, in the words of Jerry Maguire, it’s what “Complete’s Us”

• Every romantic comedy, every Disney princess movie, every happy ending is a boy, and girl, riding off into the sunset.

• Because that’s what people do.

• You go to school, you find a job. You buy a car. You get a dog. You buy a house. And you get m a r r i e d. That’s the way it’s supposed to work.

• People get married, and married people live happily ever after.

• You’re not happy? Oh, you just need a relationship.

• You need the yin to your yang, the peanut butter to your jelly.

• You need that person that’s the perfect puzzle piece fit with you.

• You just need someone who can ‘complete you’.

• But, what if this is wrong?

• What if this isn’t the way it’s supposed to be?

• What if the movie studios missed it, and the romance novels got it wrong?

• See if this is wrong, if this is a broken way of thinking, and you’re single, and you’re doing the dating thing, and you’re waiting for that person, if that’s you, then this changes things.

• And if this is wrong and you’re married, then this might explain some of your disappointments, some of your frustrations in your marriage.

• What if the answer you’re looking for, the joy you’re trying to find, the loneliness you’re trying to get rid of isn’t found in another person?

• Today we’re going to unpack a principle, that, if you’re single, it’s a principle that will absolutely revolutionize the way you think about your life.

• It will answer the, “So what if I’m single?” question.

• And even if you’re married, and you thought you had a free pass today – sorry, but this one’s for you too. You’re going to get something out of this.

• We’re going to read part of letter, written by an individual, to group of friends who had questions.

• They had questions about faith, about life, about culture, about sex, about money and, what we’re going to see today, questions about relationships.

• The friend writing the letter was the Apostle Paul.

• And he specifically addresses singleness and marriage, and I think you’re going to see some things that shed a little light on your current situation that may change your perspective.

• So, if you have your bible with you I want you to turn to 1 Corinthians chapter 7, we’re going to start reading in verse one. (pause)

• 1 Corinthians 7:1

• Now for the matters you wrote about: (let me answer the questions you sent me regarding men and women and how they relate, and how marriage should work. For the matters you wrote about,) It is good for a man not to marry.

• Wait a second Paul I think you misunderstood the question. We weren’t asking about whether or not we should get married, we were asking how to have a good marriage.

• And he’s like, “I know that. But before I tell you about marriage, I want you to know that not getting married is a good choice.”

• And let me explain, that when the Apostle Paul uses this word good, he’s using a word, that, in the Greek language, meant, are you ready for this? It meant ‘Good’.

• As in that hamburger tasted GOOD. That movie was GOOD. Breathing air is GOOD.

• He’s saying that it’s GOOD for a person to not get married.

• If you’ve got two choices, and choice number one is marriage, and choice number two is not getting married, he says choose door number two.

• It’s good for you to not get married.

• Wait a second Paul, I thought marriage was God’s idea, are you saying it’s bad to get married?

• I hope not, because if he is then the last few weeks will have been a total waste of time, right?

• Look at what he says in verse 2.

• 1 Corinthians 7:2

• But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.

• In other words, it’s really good for you to not get married, but because there’s so much sexual immorality, marriage is an ok choice.

• It’s not mandatory, may not even be the best choice, but I’m ok with it.

• And he goes on, verse 6…

• 1 Corinthians 7:6

• I say this as a concession, not as a command.

• I’d really rather you avoid marriage, but understanding culture, understanding the immorality of the world you’re living in, it’s a concession.

• If you have to get married to avoid sexual immorality, well, then go ahead and get married.

• Let me be clear, he’s not saying, “Stay single, move in together, have sex, but avoid marriage.”

• His primary concern is purity. He wants them to be holy.

• But if you can’t keep from engaging in sexual immorality. If you’re going to compromise your character, then marriage is an option.

• But the first choice for you, amazingly, is singleness.

• Seriously? First choice Paul? Ya, first choice.

• Does any body else find this surprising?

• Why would he say this? Why would God put such and emphasis on staying single? This seems so counterintuitive, so counter-culture.

• But the answer is right here, the answer is right here in our hearts.

• See, this is a heart issue.

• The human heart is like a little idol factory.

• You know what I mean?

• Now, I know when you hear idol you think two things.

• Either you picture Simon Cowell and American’s next pop start, or you imagine some primitive person bowing down to some wood carved statue, right?

• That’s what we think of when we hear idol.

• But internal idol worship, within the heart, is universal.

• In Ezekiel 14:3, God says about elders of Israel,

• Ezekiel 14:3

• “these men have set up their idols in their hearts.”

• And they were like, “Idols? What idols? I don’t see any idols.”

• “There aren’t any little wooden statues that we’re bowing down to.”

• But what God was saying was that the human heart takes good things, things like a successful career, love, material possessions, even family, and turns them into ultimate things.

• Our hearts put them at the center of our lives, because, we think, those things can give us significance and security, safety and fulfillment, if we could just get them.

• See, an idol is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination, more than God does.

• An idol is that thing you spend most your passion and energy on.

• It can be family and children, or career and making money, or achievement, or social standing.

• It can be your beauty or your brains, a great cause, or even, catch this, I want you to catch this, a romantic relationship.

• See an idol is whatever you look at and say, in your heart of hearts, “If I have that, then ,I’ll feel my life has meaning.

• If I have that thing, then I’ll know I have value, then I’ll be whole. Then I’ll be secure.

• That’s our story, and that’s the story of the people of Corinth.

• See, the city of Corinth, where these people live, was a city built on instant gratification.

• People who lived in the surrounding areas, people living in places like Athens, they went to Corinth to party on the weekend.

• Corinth was the hot spot. It was like going to Vegas.

• In fact, they had a word for their trips to Corinth.

• If you were headed there you were going to get “Corinthianized” which was slang for you were going to cut loose.

• What happens in Corinth stays in Corinth baby!

• In fact, check this out, they had a temple in Corinth, the temple of Aphrodite. And thousands of people would gather to worship this goddess Aphrodite by having a massive orgy.

• And what these people had done, I want you to get this because we’ve done the same thing, these people had turned sex, they turned intercourse, and interaction with the opposite sex into an idol.

• See, you need to understand this,

I. Relationships and sex can easily become idols.

• This is something every one of us needs to understand, first thing on your outline this morning.

• Relationships, this idea of being with another person, and sexuality, can easily become an idol in your life that you worship.

• We can do it with all kinds of things, it can be money, it can power, it can be success, but it can very very very easily be that relationship, that if you just found the right guy, or if you just found that woman, it would make you complete. That’s idolatry.

• And it doesn’t matter if you’re married or single, if you depend on a relationship with another person for significance, or for purpose, or for meaning in your life, then you’ve turned that relationship into an ultimate thing. You’ve turned it into an idol.

• And that’s why Paul puts such an emphasis on singleness, because he knows the human heart, he knows how easily we can make relationships an idol,

• And then he continues, verse 7.

• 1 Corinthians 7:7

• I wish that all men were as I am. (Which is single, which is unmarried, I wish everyone was like me,) But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.

• Now, I want you to catch what he’s saying here.

• Paul is saying something that we never hear talked about. We never get this perspective.

• He’s giving us a profound, revolutionary thought.

• What Paul is saying, next point I want you to get, Paul is saying that…

II. Singleness is a gift.

• Singleness, not be married, not having that relationship with another person is a gift.

• You have to understand, Paul is breaking new ground with this statement.

• See for the Jewish people, the idea was for them to be fruitful and multiply.

• The idea was that a good Hebrew was to get married and to have kids and extend the legacy.

• Singleness was a curse. It was bad. The last thing you wanted was to grow up and be that crazy old unmarried aunt.

• Every time they called their mom she was asking, “Have you met anybody? Are you seeing someone? When are you going to give me grand children?”

• “I met this attractive young man, I think he’s an accountant. You should call him.”

• It was taboo to be single.

• Sound familiar?

• But then, you begin to find people in the New Testament; you begin to find certain people, John the Baptist, Jesus, Paul, who are good Jewish men who are staying single.

• And now Paul makes this statement. Singleness isn’t a curse. Singleness, check this out, singleness, is a gift.

• And he goes on, and he says, in verse,

• 1 Corinthians 7:8

• Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am.

• He’s saying, “I know that culture is telling you that you oughta get married. I know that there are times when you go home to an empty house and you don’t like that, I know you feel like you’re supposed to get married, but, it is, (here’s that word again), it is GOOD for you to stay unmarried.

• Why?

• Because singleness is a gift.

• Singleness is special. Why would you give that up?

• It’s like someone delivering a brand new convertible to your driveway just in time for summer, and throwing you the keys, and saying, “It’s a gift! It’s a yours. Enjoy.”

• And your like, “Why would I want this?”

• You wouldn’t do that, none of us would do that.

• But many of you are doing that with your singleness.

• You look at singleness like it’s a holding pattern. Like you’re in the minor leagues, waiting to get the call to big leagues.

• And so you feel this pressure, this expectation, that you find a man, that you find that girl.

• But the only reason you would feel that way is because you don’t understand the value of what you have.

• You don’t view singleness as a gift is because you don’t see the value, you don’t know what it’s worth.

• Now, I know that some of you are thinking, oh yeah, that’s easy for you to say, you’re married. You’ve got that other person. We’ve seen your wife; she’s beautiful, you’re kids are beautiful. You’ve found the one.

• But I want to show you something, that if you’re single, you’re going to change your opinion of married people.

• In fact, as you see what Paul says next, you might actually feel bad for me.

• Look at verse 28

• 1 Corinthians 7:28

• 28But if you do marry, you have not sinned; (and all of us married folks breath a sigh of relief) and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But (Check this out) those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.

• Listen, married guys, if you’re tempted to say Amen right now, I don’t recommend it. I tried it. It didn’t go over real well.

• But you gotta catch this? Those who marry, those who get married, they will face m a n y troubles, troubles that single people will never face, troubles that, obviously to Paul, outweighed the privileges of being married.

• Marriage takes work, it takes effort. There are troubles associated with marriage. Anybody that’s been married more than three weeks can tell you that, right?

• Toward the end of Cheri and my engagement, I remember thinking, “After we get married, everything will be different. It will be so much easier, it will be so much better. Life will be good, when we’re finally married.”

• And then we were married; like a month; maybe two, and I remember one day thinking to myself, (you don’t say this stuff out loud when you’ve been married two months, so I was thinking this, not saying this,) I thought, man, marriage was supposed to make life easier. But now that I’m married I’ve got a whole new set of troubles.

• A whole new set of questions.

• Questions like, “Honey, what exactly do you mean by you can’t just disappear into you’re your buddies’ apartment and play video games for seventeen consecutive hours?”

• Or, “You mean there are other channels besides ESPN?”

• Or, “I thought a place called Pottery Barn would be a barn that sold inexpensive pottery, not overpriced furniture?”

• How many of you guys know what I’m talking about?

• See Paul got that, he understood that marriage impacts a person’s focus and freedom, and he explains it in verse 32.

• 1 Corinthians 7:32

• 32I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. 33But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— 34and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. 35I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.

• See, what he’s saying is the gift of singleness invites you to be fully devoted to Jesus.

• When you’re single, you have opportunities that married people don’t.

• Because a married person’s responsibilities, a married person’s devotion, is divided.

• But when you’re single, you can be fully devoted to the Lord.

• And here’s why that’s so important.

• If you only walk out of here with one thing today, I want it to be this one thing.

• Here it is. This is so important because…

• The Principle: The only person that can complete you is Jesus Christ

• The only person that can make you feel whole, the only person that can satisfy your longing for fulfillment, the only person that can complete you, is Jesus Christ.

• There’s no Mr. Right who is right enough. There’s no perfect 10 who’s ten enough, to satisfy the deeper longings of your heart.

• He’s the only one.

• And if you’re single, you have the opportunity, the privilege to pursue that wholeheartedly – full time.

• What a gift.

• So what if you’re single.

• If you’re single it means you have more time to do what matters, it means you have more energy to put towards the one relationship that actually can fulfill you.

• See I know that deep down, you think, because your culture keeps telling you this, that you’ll be happy if you just have that perfect relationship, or that new relationship, or the right relationship.

• You might think another human being can complete you, but a relationship with another person will never satisfy you the way that Jesus Christ does.

• And maybe this is where, as a married person, I have one advantage, because I figured out a long time ago, that if build my life around my wife, as wonderful as she is; if I find my identity in her, as much as she loves God, I will never fill the space in my heart that is reserved for Jesus.

• And one of the best things I did for my identity, and one of the best things I did for my marriage, was realize that building my life around her was a mistake.

• Because the only person that can complete me, or complete you, is Jesus Christ.

• You’ve been hardwired to find your identity, to find fulfillment in him.

• And another broken human being isn’t where you’ll find it.

• He’s the only one.

• There’s no human relationship or sexual encounter that will ever answer the deeper longing of your heart.

• I don’t care how strong that urge is.

• You will never be more whole than when you find your identity in Jesus Christ.

• So, let me ask you this.

• Have you turned your relationship with another person into an idol?

• Is it all you think about?

• Are constantly checking your profile on Match.com?

• Is your first prayer request in the life group about finding that other person?

• Do you find yourself bouncing from relationship to relationship, looking for that answer?

• Or, if you’re married, are you really disappointed with the person you’re married to?

• If you answered yes to any of these questions then there’s a good chance, there’s a high likelihood, that you are looking to someone else, some other, incomplete and broken person to do what only God can do.

• Why are you doing that?

• The only person that can complete you, and the only person that can complete me is Jesus Christ.

• Would you say that with me.

• “The only person that can complete me, is Jesus Christ.”

• “The only person that can complete me, is Jesus Christ.”

• We all have our own unique life.

• We are all so different, so unique. And it puzzles me, with all of our differences, why we’re trying to cram our lives into one homogenous movie studio story line that looks the same for everyone.

• God created you uniquely, and, strange as it may seem, he created you single.

• You came into this world single, and you’ll spend eternity single.

• Marriage, for those of us who are married, is only a temporary state.

• But if you’re single, you’ve been given a gift. Make the most of it.

• You’re not in a holding pattern, you’re free to pursue the life God wants for you. You don’t need another person to make you whole.

• Let’s Pray Together.