Summary: All Christians should live their lives with a sense of urgency for the Kingdom, living as free from worldly distractions as possible in order to serve God more effectively.
Single? Use your energies to further God’s aims in the world.
Married? Remember God’s Kingdom is your first priority.
Do not get attached to material things. Use them for the Kingdom.
Men are notorious for being distracted. Most of us could qualify for having ADD — Attention Deficit Disorder. In fact, I heard about a guy who was so distracted over one thing and another that he had to have his wife tell him almost everything. One day his wife came into the room and said, “Here’s the sweater you asked me to find.” He said, “Are we going somewhere, or am I cold?” That would be funny if it wasn’t so close to home. I can’t tell you how many times I have walked into a room and asked myself what I am doing there. I knew that I came there for a reason, but it was beyond me what it was because I became distracted by something else.
It is hard to remain focused isn’t it? It is even harder to remain PASSIONATE about something!
As disciples of Jesus Christ, one of our main struggles in life is to stay focused on Jesus Christ – living for Him, sharing his love with others, leading others to Him, worshipping Him. Because LIFE HAPPENS! Our days are full of responsibilities, tasks, people, entertainment, and mindless drivel that threatens to suck all the passion and energy out of our commitment to living for Jesus Christ.
What do we do about this? The answer I’d like to explore comes from the 7th chapter of 1 Corinthians. Paul is discussing the role that marriage or singleness plays in our faith, and as you’ll remember from last week’s message – he is exhorting people to serve God right where they are, no matter what their situation. Throughout the verses we’ll read together in a minute you’ll hear the following theme: To stay focused on God’s Kingdom, we must live with a sense of urgency.
If I am honest I must say that I struggled as I put this message together for this weekend, because I’m not sure I’m really the best one to be teaching others in this area. I need to apply the things I’ll be sharing with you myself!
1 Corinthians 7:26-35 (NIV)
26Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for you to remain as you are. 27Are you married? Do not seek a divorce. Are you unmarried? Do not look for a wife. 28But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.
29What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; 30those 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; 31those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.
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.
OK, let’s start with the specific advice Paul gives to single people, and then work from there to a principle that all of us can apply.
It’s GREAT to be single and serving God!
Those who are married, and especially those with kids, know how much of our time and energy goes into managing daily schedules. More people means more food to buy, more clothes to purchase, wash, fold. More cleaning. More cars to maintain. More square footage living space to clean and pay for. More activities to get people to and from. More emotional needs to be met. More of everything.
Those who are single still have life details to manage. But as Paul points out – there are less details to distract you when you are single. Let me read verses 32-35 again, this time from the Message paraphrase:
1 Cor. 7:32-35 (The Message)
32I want you to live as free of complications as possible. When you’re unmarried, you’re free to concentrate on simply pleasing the Master. 33Marriage involves you in all the nuts and bolts of domestic life and in wanting to please your spouse, 34leading to so many more demands on your attention. The time and energy that married people spend on caring for and nurturing each other, the unmarried can spend in becoming whole and holy instruments of God. 35I’m trying to be helpful and make it as easy as possible for you, not make things harder. All I want is for you to be able to develop a way of life in which you can spend plenty of time together with the Master without a lot of distractions.