“There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world—how she may please her husband.”---I Corinthians 7:34 (NKJV)
“I want you to live as free of complications as possible. When you're unmarried, you're free to concentrate on simply pleasing the Master. Marriage involves you in all the nuts and bolts of domestic life and in wanting to please your spouse, leading 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. I'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.”---I Corinthians 7:32-35 (Message)
Wife: a woman joined in marriage to a man; a woman considered in relation to her husband; spouse
Virgin: a person who has never had sexual intercourse; a pure, uncorrupted person; morally beyond reproach, especially in sexual conduct; pure; unsullied; undefiled; not previously exploited, cultivated, tapped, or used; without experience of; not previously exposed to
Do you ever notice that some of the people that you can't stand in the beginning, often end up being the best people for you? I dunno, maybe that's just me; but when I think of some of my current “soul mates” (which I personally believe is anyone who plays a significant role in the betterment of your soul), “rocky” is exactly how our relationship began. I believe it's because the Enemy saw the potential of the union from day one...and he didn't like what he saw (John 10:10). Well, believe it or not, someone who used to irk the mess outta me was the author of the lead scripture for today, Paul.
Also, is it just me, or does he sometimes seem like such a relationship hater? Everywhere you turn, he's giving his two cents on remaining single rather than getting married. To be honest, his emphatic resolve on the matter has always caused me to wonder just what his “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7) was. I mean, have you come to the conclusion to remain unmarried by choice or condition. But again, that's just me.
Either way, awhile back, I got a huge “love slap” (Proverbs 27:6) in the face by someone who said to me, rather nonchalantly I might add: “You are like a modern-day Paul. You talk a lot about marriage for someone who has never been married.” Oh, how quickly we judge...unrighteously.(John 7:24) Shoot, she's right. I do spend a lot of time on relationships and although it's been a minute, I know and claim by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7), that my stuff is in good and working order! And, since it has been a while...since sex or a serious relationship, although I can't believe I'm saying this, now, I get EXACTLY where Paul is coming from...and why he advised it. (“It” being staying single.)
Now, that doesn't mean I have the desire to remain this way, but during this season of singleness (SINGLE IN EVERY WAY), there is one huge thing that I have learned: even, and especially, when it comes to marriage, God is a God of order (I Corinthians 14:40). There is a reason why singles should serve God, first before entering a relationship with a spouse. But, it might not be totally for the reasons you may think...or have been taught. Just recently, while in my prayer time, when it comes to my current status and the transitioning that I believe God is sending me through in preparation for the next, this is what he led me to (as it relates to this message):
“Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.”---Ephesians 5:1-2 (Message)
Have any of you ever caught the show, “Bridezillas”? Isn't it the absolute worst representation of weddings---and brides? However, although they may be extreme versions of, umm, witchy brides, I have known some people in my up close and personal space to not be too far off.
I want this on my day.
I want him to do that on my day.
I will not tolerate such-and-such on my day.
Most of my unmarried female friends already have their weddings planned out and while I am starting to catch a vision of it (one that I think my future king will appreciate because it's pretty low key), I have always been hesitant because if it's about me joining myself to another (I Corinthians 16:6), SHOULDN'T WE BOTH BE IN ON IT FROM THE VERY BEGINNING? I mean, how do you really plan a wedding alone? And further more, LADIES, if you enter your union excluding him, how well does that speak to your mindset re: the rest of the relationship? You run the wedding and he runs the marriage? Hmm, I'm not so sure it works that way. I think it's cool to write IDEAS down...but full-on wedding planning, well, go as you're led. JUST MAKE SURE IT'S GOD THAT'S LEADING YOU! (Galatians 5:16) Marriage is about sharing and compromise. If you're not ready to do both, throw yourself a party and buy a white dress. It would save you and “him” a lot of trouble.
Sharing and compromising through loving. I believe that is what the verses of Ephesians are meant to teach us. The Bible says that an unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord and what would one of those most important things be? LOVING HIM AND LOVING OTHERS. Oh, but what I really appreciate about Ephesians is that, as singles, in this season, it provides us with a model. By watching God and how he loves us, we learn how to LIVE A LIFE OF LOVE; how to NOT BE CAUTIOUS BUT EXTRAVAGANT and how to NOT LOVE TO GET BUT TO GIVE. If you desire to be married someday, NOW would be the time to get this principle down...yes, even before you begin wedding planning.
Even now, sometimes it feels like I do “unofficial” (in the sense that I don't get paid for it) premarital/marital advice. The one thing that seems to be a constant is everything is told from one point of you: HE is doing this...SHE is doing that. Or more specifically, HE is not doing enough of this and SHE is not doing enough of that. I can't recall one time when someone initiated a session by saying, “We called you because I am being a jerk...unselfish...withholding sex...emotionally abusive...not budgeting wisely...” So many people enter relationships for what they can get and then, when they don't get it, there's a problem. So what they may not be giving what the other person needs. In their eyes, “Until I get what I need, that's not even a relevant point.”
This is not only untrue, but a counterproductive approach to relationships. If God loved us based on what we did/didn't do enough of, we'd all be up a creek. He loves because he is love. There's no other way for him to be, and according to I John 4:8, until you can love in this way, contrary to what you may believe, not only are you not loving others, but you aren't loving God.
Semi-recently, I was having a discussion with a friend of mine and he asked me to be patient with him. I Corinthians 13:4 introduces the love chapter with “patient”. It's just now that I am realizing that when he asked me that, basically what he was saying is, “I need you to really love me; not for how I look or what I do/say, but for who I am.” To love who someone really is...when you can do that, that's love. In one of the latest marriage blog submissions (http://sohowdidyouknow.blogspot.com), Ryan said, “Actually, I am not a big believer in the 'right person'. Frankly, we're all 'wrong' for each other, aren't we? It's only our dependence on Jesus that makes things work. With the cross before me, we have a chance at wholeness.”
Say a word! When we take on the task of loving anyone, we are entering a vulnerable and semi-risky position because we ALL sin and fall short of God's glory. (Romans 3:23) That means that no matter how fine he is or how sweet she seems, give it time: THEY WILL DISAPPOINT YOU. THEY WILL MESS UP. THEY WILL HURT YOUR FEELINGS. That's what sin does. If you don't take this time NOW to have God reveal to you how to deal with these issues on the front end, a non-fulfilling marriage at best...divorce court at worst is where you are headed. A huge light bulb moment: THE PURPOSE OF RELATIONSHIPS IS FOR MUTUAL BETTERMENT. If you were both perfect on the front end, I'm not so sure what you would need one another for in the first place. I mean, if I am to be a “helper” that would mean that my husband would need my “help”, right?
Now, that's not a “pass” on abuse. God said LOVE one another, not HURT one another (hopefully we will get into that in another chapter). But, it does mean that we are all in relationship to restore what was lost as the result of sin: to bring us back to God, which is essentially bringing us back to who he is, which is love. While you're single, this is an uninterrupted time of one-on-one teaching from your Father, the ULTIMATE TEACHER, on what it means to be patient...kind...NOT JEALOUS (feeling resentment against someone because of that person's rivalry, success, or advantages), or proud... to not be RUDE or selfish...or getting upset all of the time (if you're in a relationship right now that has you upset a lot...umm, you're “in something”, but not so sure it's love)...to learn how to be happy with TRUTH and to accept things...bear things...to patiently accept ALL things.
Fellas, if you can't accept her appearance, her history, her quirky nature now, she may not be the love relationship for you (at least in this season). Ladies, if you can't accept his work schedule now, his nasty habits (AND THEY ALL HAVE AT LEAST ONE) now, his female friendships now, you may need to keep it moving. Godly love doesn't CHANGE people; it just, by being love, encourages and promotes IMPROVEMENT. You see how hard it is for you to “get through” some issues. If you can't extend the same kind of tolerance/understanding/compassion/PATIENCE with another that you can with yourself...yeah, alone and tending to the things of the Lord is exactly where you need to be....for now, anyway. And that's OK. Learning to love is always a good thing.
Men: Now, you see how this verse is pretty much talking to the ladies, but I did have two things that I wanted to share as it relates to it. First of all, do you see all of the definitions of “wife” and “virgin”. Let's take “wife”, first. As a wife, we are meant to be in RELATION with you. This means that there is to be a CONNECTION. If a woman is connected to you, that means she is “joined”, “linked”, “united” and “bound” to you. That means she is to associate with you both mentally and emotionally. That means you have a special rapport...that you relate to one another. If you are in a relationship right now, spend some real God time inquiring if the two of you “hang out” or if you are really connected.
On the “virgin” tip, yes, one definition indeed is a woman who has never had sexual intercourse (a true blessing, indeed), but you do see that there are other descriptions, right? The NKJV version describes a single woman, period as a “virgin”. If you are entertaining marriage, you need to be looking for someone who is “morally beyond reproach”, “pure” and “unsullied”. Now that doesn't mean that she may be a sexual virgin, but you do need to ask the Father if she is new in Christ; if old things...ALL OF THEM have passed away. (2 Corinthians 5:17) A godly man deserves a godly woman; he's planted the seeds for that kind of harvest. (2 Corinthians 9:6) Don't just watch what she says, but what she does. You are supposed to love us as Christ loved the Church, right? (Ephesians 5:25) When John spoke of the corrupt church in Revelation (2:20-23-NKJV)), take heed:
“Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman, Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.”
Sexual immorality always has its consequences, and I am firm when I say that a woman who will compromise herself sexually with you CANNOT BE TRUSTED. Why? Because she has actually put herself and you over her Creator. (Romans 1) That doesn't mean she is malicious (necessarily), but it does mean that she allows her flesh to manipulate the both of you. WE, AS WOMEN, WERE CREATED BY GOD TO HELP YOU. The Bible says that the wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23) When God said that he would make a helper SUITABLE for Adam (Genesis 2:20), you can best believe that HELPING HIM TO HELL (Proverbs 7:27) is not what he had in mind. A woman who is all caught up in seducing your flesh is not being an aid to your spirit. “Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh”, right? (Galatians 5:16) As a man of God, you should always be in an upright position. If she has you stumbling all of the time, she is not only a gateway to disaster, but she's spiritual emasculating you. A woman is known by her fruits (Matthew 12:33)...judge/discern accordingly. One fruit is “self-control”...of her mind, body and spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23) When it comes to consequences, sometimes you can make lemonade out of lemons. (Joel 2:23-25) A lot of times, you cannot you. Either way, why “gamble” when you can stand on God's Word and get a definite blessing by waiting and not submitting to the very thing you are called to lead? Your wife.
Women: First of all, if you are a virgin, THAT IS WHAT GOD WANTED US ALL TO BE. Do not let the Enemy steal from you something that is so sacred...so precious and these days, so rare. It has taken REAL WORK to get the cobwebs of my sexual past cleared out so that I could fully celebrate, and not compare, my future king to others. You don't want to have to go/grow through that kind of drama. It was from a VIRGIN that Christ was born (Isaiah 7:14)...our Savior was born of a virgin! That is how much God values that level of purity.
But while I'm on this, again, you check out the definitions of virgin again, as well. Just because you haven't had intercourse, that doesn't automatically make you the kind of virgin that God calls all of his daughters to be. Don't get into relationships that emotionally exploit you. Don't compromise your top or bottom half by doing things that are defiling. Steer clear of acts that will expose you to things that are none of your business until after your wedding. My late great-grandmother (God rest her soul) used to give the crassest advice: “Cop a feel to make sure it's real.” (I know, right?!?) If we are to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7)...if we are to claim that God can do exceedingly above all that we can ask or think (Ephesians 3:20) then honey, you can best believe that also applies to the bedroom and what we need to be able to “not withhold” for the rest of our days. (I Corinthians 7:5) Every car has its own custom-made key that fits. (I never thought an R. Kelly song could make its way into a devotional, but “Ignition” now makes much more sense...I'll leave that alone now!)
And while I'm at it, don't fall for that “test drive it first” crap. If anyone has the ability to be a shady car salesman, it would be the Enemy....you know, fixin' “it” up just enough to have you get the “car” off the lot and then leave you stuck with it when it breaks down. Lust is an illusion...a counterfeit of love. THAT IS WHAT HE DESIGNED IT TO BE. Proverbs 11:6 says that the unfaithful will be caught by their lust. I Thessalonians 4:5 describes the passion of lust to a trait of those who do not know God. God is love and marriage is of God. Lust is not the avenue to get you there. It will just leave you lost...and alone. (For some, even after marriage.)
One more thing: The Word says that when we are single, we are concerned/consumed by the things of the Lord. When we are married, pleasing our husbands becomes a big priority. Eh-hem: PLEASING YOUR HUSBAND IS TO BE A PRIORITY. When you please someone, you want to give them pleasure and satisfaction; you desire for them to be glad and feel contented, and you take measures to be agreeable (ready to consent or submit). Now that doesn't mean you become a punk. It just means that you would rather put your energy towards having peace in your home than strife. (Philippians 2:14) If you're dating someone right now and it's all about pleasing you, you may not be “wifey material” just yet. And, that's fine. Being single is all about you...after God, of course.
So, I'm on to researching #8, ya'll. Until then, make pleasing God...serving God...loving God your focus. He has you in this “class” for a reason and the sooner you retain, the sooner you can get promoted. I promise:
“Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”---Psalm 37:4 (NKJV)
Because really, if what God thinks/desires/requires doesn't matter to you, I don't know why you think another person's needs would.
A BIG test question worth asking...and passing. ALONE.
©Shellie R. Warren/2009