1 Corinthians 7:34-35:
“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 things of this world –
how she can please her husband.
I 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.”
Dear Christian Woman,
We have been called to undivided devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ. He has purified us from our sin and worldliness and set us apart to His holy purposes, are you walking in daily devotion to Him?
Perhaps the best way to start this discussion is by taking a few moments to consider what “undivided devotion” is. Simply put, it is a focused commitment and sacrificial giving of ourselves to someone or something. We fix our eyes on the goal and do not let them wander or waver. When the going gets tough, we are committed to giving whatever it takes to accomplish that goal. In this passage, the apostle Paul expects unmarried women to be making the Lord Jesus Christ their goal. Is He yours?
Today we face so many things (good, bad, and ugly) that try to pull our devotion away from Christ. The world tugs at us with promises of popularity, boyfriends, successful careers, and fulfillment of all our desires. Our time and energy are wanted for church, charitable efforts, political, and community activities – busy work that can keep us from our real goal. Our selfish hearts claim “me time,” often pursuing entertainments that lead us away from holiness to God and into sinful impurity. With so many things demanding our time and attention how can we “put them in their place,” so to speak, and give our undivided devotion to the Lord as we are commanded in Scripture? How can we be discerning of the things we are supposed to be giving our time and energy to and those that take us away from devotion to the Lord? “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…” (Hebrews 12:2) Through Him alone can we find the strength to fight the battle for devotion to Him alone.
I would like to discuss three areas that we need to seriously evaluate ourselves in as we claim to be devoted to Christ. These are our daily habits, our entertainments, and our lifestyle choices. These are areas that large numbers of Christian women are failing in today as we evidence a devotion to ourselves and the world more than to Christ. And if we claim to know Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, as our redeemer from sin and it’s punishment of death, dare we say that we have no love or devotion for Him? Should not our gratitude for His undeserved mercy call us to repent and forsake the worldly, sinful ways we so easily fall back into and to strive with all our might to live a life of obedience for His glory alone? If we have no appreciation and no desire to love or obey Him do we rightly conclude that we are His children? Have we truly repented of our ways to follow His?
Romans 12:1-2: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
1) Do our daily habits speak of heartfelt devotion to the Lord? As Christians we will not be growing in faith, wisdom, love, or obedience unless we are cultivating our relationship with our God. We need Him! It is so easy to push off the means that bring us closer to God until “a better time” or a “time with fewer distractions”. Guess what? That time never comes! Now, unmarried women often have more time that they can set aside for devotional time than married women with children, but that time will be wasted away on something else unless we carefully and purposefully set it aside and commit to making it the top priority. Many of us desire to be married someday – perhaps we even daydream about spending lots of time with that “special someone” – shouldn’t we look forward to spending time with our spiritual Bridegroom on a daily basis? Let’s purpose to make Jesus Christ the goal of our lives and prioritize spending time in devotion with Him. I find these kinds of questions challenging but helpful in evaluating where I am at in my spiritual walk:
- Am I reading a portion of God’s Word daily?
- Do I delight in it?
- Am I casting all my burdens upon Him and trusting His provision for my needs?
- Am I bringing thanksgivings as well as requests before the throne of God?
- Do I confess my sins to the Lord and ask for help to obey?
- Am I memorizing scripture regularly?
- Am I striving to apply and obey God’s word in my life?
2) Do our entertainment choices speak of a life set apart to Jesus Christ in Holiness? The definition of “holiness” is “set apart,” we have been set apart from the world and sin to God’s ways, God’s purposes and God’s glory. Many times the books we read, movies or TV programs we watch or radio stations we listen to do not reflect this! We need to take seriously the admonition in Romans 12:2: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” No longer is the world’s standard of “good” acceptable! We must filter everything we watch, read, listen to and participate in through God’s Word. If we love Jesus Christ we should delight in conforming our tastes and desires to His will, which is found in His word. This is why we need to know what it says! “If you love me, keep my commands.” (John 14:15)
Questions to examine ourselves: – Does this book encourage or discourage pure thoughts? – Did the language in that program help me guard my mind and lips from unwholesome talk? – Were the pictures I just allowed into my head pleasing to God?
3) Do we allow God’s Word the authority to speak to every issue/topic regarding our lifestyle? This is a battle of the wills – my will or God’s will? Am I willing to accept the guidance and direction I need to honor God in each lifestyle decision? Many times we are not. We are quick to claim God’s grace as a license for disobedience. Ladies, it is time to face our sin for what it is and realize that our all-knowing, loving God has given us guidelines “not to restrict us, but that we may live in a right way” before Him. After all, isn’t He the judge before whom we will give an account? This topic is very broad so I will give just one example today: Clothing Choices. Now God’s Word doesn’t say “thou must always wear skirts or dresses” but does that mean it doesn’t speak to the issue of Christian modesty or clothing choices? No! We are commanded to be modest and also to not become a stumbling block to our brothers in Christ. Each family will have a different standard for what this means – but all of the standards should have a common purpose and theme of obedience to God, protecting our fellow believers and cultivating a modest heart attitude. Along the same lines the theme of our clothes is important to consider as well. Especially in printed clothes we need to consider if the item is bringing glory to Christ or drawing attention to ourselves (or even in some cases to the devil). Again, we must determine who will be the master in our lives – us or God. We need to apply His word to our attitudes, friends, clothing, places we go, etc. Consider these verses in light of your lifestyle; is Christ on the throne of your heart?
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Matthew 6:24
So we come to our second question, why do the verses (at the very top from 1 Corinthians 7:34-35) indicate that an unmarried person can be more fully devoted to the Lord than a married one? We know from other passages of scripture that getting married doesn’t mean you stop seeking or serving the Lord – yet the role you play changes. It does seem that these unmarried years are a “special” time that can be of great service to the Lord. I say “can be,” because in so many ways we seem to buy into our culture’s thinking that the single years are “me time”–a time to pursue my dreams, my goals, and my desires to the fullest. As Christians we definitely need a mindset change to “More of Christ” time! That said, we are often at a loss when we consider how we can best use this time for the Lord. Here are some suggestions that will hopefully “prime the pump” and help you consider the unique opportunities for service that the Lord has placed in your life.
1) First, an unmarried woman can choose to make more time in her daily schedule to study the Word of God, memorize the Scriptures and learn/practice diligence and faithfulness in prayer. She has an advantage over a married woman in the sense that she doesn’t have a husband’s needs to consider or children that require her undivided time and attention. She is most often not the sole caretaker of the home. This “freedom” from extra responsibilities can be used to grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ if we choose to make Him our priority. So often we forget the preciousness of this growing season and waste the time that is given us on worldly pleasures. It is easy to spend a few extra minutes doing our hair, applying make-up, reading a fun book, playing on Facebook, or sending text messages. It is harder to set aside a small block of undivided time to fix our eyes and attention on Jesus Christ. Why? Young Ladies, this is something we must change in! “Actions speak louder than words,” and they will tell us where our priorities lie – even when we deny it.
2) Secondly, God has put us in a sphere of influence that we tend to want to ignore called our family. We can come alongside of our parents to serve (and also to learn for future reference) in the home. We can further enable our mom and dad to serve others in the ways God has given to them. (For example: we can help care for our parent’s household responsibilities so that our mom can take some time away to visit with and encourage a younger mom to “keep on keeping on.”) It would be more “fun” for us to go help that mom with laundry or cleaning or babysitting (and maybe that is another way we can help serve), but it is also crucial that our wise, older women be speaking encouragement into the lives of these young married women. It is their biblical role to be teaching them to love their husbands and children… be self-controlled…keepers at home, etc., and we can enable them to have time from the busyness of our own homes to reach out to those needing encouragement and biblical counsel.
Family is a “ready-made” opportunity to put our faith into practice, yet, interestingly enough, it is the one we would often prefer to “skip.” It is somehow often more desirable to serve other families in our church or community than it is to follow through at home. Serving at home truly is a sanctification process, we must continue to submit ourselves to God-given authority in a respectful way (when those around us are becoming “their own boss”), and we must learn biblical conflict resolution with our siblings and give up our self-centeredness to put the needs of others ahead of ourselves. This can be very difficult when those around us are simply walking out of their family problems because going away to college or moving out enables them to ignore the issues! But it is also a rewarding service, as we learn to serve with cheerfulness and contentednesses we will bring glory to Jesus Christ and be better prepared for marriage responsibilities should the Lord bless us with a husband.
3) Look for ways to use the talents the Lord has given you to serve your local church body. Specifics will vary greatly, but in our church family, there are young ladies who help with music, bulletins, and cleaning for the morning worship service. Some make themselves available to help keep the younger children quiet so their parents can focus on the sermon. I know young women who take time for “tea” with older or sick ladies who are “shut-in,” help with cleaning projects or drop in regularly to say “hi” to folks they know in nursing homes. One woman spends an hour or so every couple weeks playing piano “favorites” and hymns at a local nursing home. She has been thanked many times for brightening up the day. Many times there are less obvious ways to encourage and build up the church. It may be sending cards of encouragement, praying for/with people, giving a hand where there is a need, or helping that mother with young children. Pray for opportunities and if you are still living at home, discuss it with your parents – they may see needs that you don’t.
While writing this I have found myself challenged in many ways to be more diligent in living out my faith and to serve in the roles God has given me with cheerfulness and love. I hope that these thoughts will help you to do some evaluation in your life and prayerfully pursue devotion to the Lord with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength! God bless, Sarah