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By Rev Charles Seet

Text: 1 Corinthians 7:25-35

I. The Abundant Life

A. It results from the Good Shepherd’s care of his sheep.

What is the Abundant Life? It is taken from John 10:10 – “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” These wonderful words were spoken by our Lord Jesus when he described Himself as the Good Shepherd, caring for His sheep. And in the context, this verse is actually set forth as a contrast between the thief and the good shepherd. The thief comes only to steal, to kill and to destroy. I.e. the false teachers and false Christs have evil motives – to take advantage of the sheep, use them for their own ends, and make their life miserable with heavy burdens. But Jesus does just the opposite for His sheep. He came to save them, to bless them and to give them life, and not just life, but abundant life! 

B. The abundance is in quality, not quantity

Now when we speak of the abundant life, we are not talking about quantitative abundance, for that would mean longer life. Of course we know that Jesus gives us eternal life. By means of His death on the cross for us, He has given us life eternal. But eternal life would not be worthwhile if we are going to be miserable throughout eternity. What we need is quality rather than quantity.

So what Christ was talking about in this verse is qualititative abundance: Life that is not empty but filled with fullness, life that is not futile but fulfilling, life that is meaningful, joyful and satisfying. It is interesting to note that the same idea is found in another passage on the good shepherd – the one that is found in Psalm 23. When David was speaking about all the benefits the sheep receive from the good shepherd, he said, “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.” (Psalm 23:5) The image of the abundant life is portrayed in the last line: “my cup runneth over” which means ‘my cup overflows.’ The cup represents the care and provisions of God and the overflowing means that God’s children receive the best of life’s benefits.

C. It does not depend on our outward circumstances

And these qualities are true of the abundant life regardless of one’s outward circumstances: A person may be rich or poor and still have the abundant life. A person may be young or old and still have the abundant life. A person may be in suffering great pain or in the pink of health and still have the abundant life. And a person may be married or single and still be blessed with the abundant life.

This is because the abundant life is not measured in the amount of wealth or health a person has, nor in the standard of living one can afford, nor in the popularity or power one can garner for oneself. We know this because King Solomon who wrote the book of Ecclesiastes described the pursuit of all these things as vanity and vexation of spirit.

D. It is measured in the extent of Christ’s involvement in one’s life

How do we measure the abundant life? I would like to suggest that the answer to this is found in what the apostle wrote in the book of Philippians: Let me read some of these verses to you – Philippians 1:21 – “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” 3:8 – “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,” 4:4 – “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Rejoice.” 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Can you see what terms the apostle Paul used to measure the abundant life? It is in the deep-seated joy that Christ gives to our hearts, the empowerment He gives to live for Him, and the intimate knowledge of Christ, and the development of Christlikeness in our life. Jesus Christ lived the most perfect and abundant life anyone ever lived. Therefore when our lives are fully conformed to His, we will experience the abundant life.

To live abundantly therefore means to live for Christ and with Christ, a life that derives all its joy, power and love from the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore the abundant life is measured in terms of the involvement of Christ in our life. This is the Bible’s definition of a life that is truly blessed and fulfilled.

Are you experiencing the abundant life? I trust that we will all seek to have this abundant life. And all of us can have it as long as we have Christ. So let us now proceed to talk about our main topic: The Abundant Life for Single Adults.

II. The Bible’s View of Singlehood

A. It is God’s perfect will for some to be Single

A single adult is an adult person who is either not married, or who was married before but has lost his or her spouse. The Bible has examples of both. One outstanding single adult in the Old Testament was Jeremiah. It was God’s will for him to remain single all of his life (Jeremiah 16:1,2), and one of the reasons in his case was to spare him of the grief and sorrow of seeing loved ones suffering in the time destruction and captivity. In 1 Corinthians 7, God’s Word tells us that singlehood is as much a gift of God as marriage is. Paul said, “…every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.” (v.7) The apostle Paul himself was an outstanding single adult (as he says in vv.7,8), and yet he was happy and contented in his singlehood (Philippians 4:11). Hence from all of these verses we can see that singlehood is portrayed in the Bible in a positive light.

B. Some may have special needs for ministry

1. Widows and Widowers

In Bible times, one group of single adults that had special needs was the widows. They were often in difficult straits, because of the social customs of that time. Hence their needs were given special attention. According to Psalm 68:5, God is a “A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows,” According to James 1:27, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” Now, while widows are economically much better off today than in Bible times, they still have needs for ministry. Men who lose their wives are often more greatly affected than women who lose their husbands. They too need help.

2. Those who need friends

Beside widows there are other singles today that also have special needs. In one survey taken of single adults, in which they were asked about their frustrations, the majority chose their greatest frustration to be“being left out” or “not being included, especially in couples or family events.” The second greatest frustration was finances, and the third was the finding of meaningful and rewarding friendships.

This is perhaps one reason why many singles today spend much time in internet chat rooms and phone lines to meet new people. But this sometimes has disastrous results because there are some evil people who use this to victimize others. It is good for you who are single adults to cultivate good friendships, but please be selective about where you choose to find friends. The best place to develop quality friendships is with likeminded believers. Hence a fellowship group is one good place for you to begin cultivating friendships.

The Bible has some examples of good friendships between believers of the same mind: E.g. Naomi and Ruth, David and Jonathan, Elijah and Elisha, Paul and Timothy. Besides widows and those who are in need in friends, another special need of single adults is that of:

3. Those who seek marriage

Some desire to be married and settle down, but somehow cannot find the right person to marry. And if they are unable to face this problem well, they might become frustrated and even bitter against God and society. Some may even feel that the church should provide a match-making facility like what the SDU is doing to meet their needs.

But matters of the heart and personal preferences are sensitive issues that are best left to the outworking of God’s sovereign providence in each person’s life. We want to avoid a situation where people come to church for the primary purpose of finding a life-partner, just because it has this facility. Let us remember that the primary responsibility of the church to single adults is to provide the ministry of the Word and of prayer for them, especially to prepare them with all the biblical principles they will need to have a good Christian marriage and build a godly home, if they should one day marry. E.g. They need to know the Bible’s prohibition against unequally yoked marriage, and divorce.

I believe that the church is also responsible to some extent, to provide some opportunities for good social interaction and fellowship among single adults, in the form of camps, retreats, fellowship group meetings, and service which involves teamwork. This will meet help single adults who want to find friends, and it will also help those who are seeking for a life-partner. Do you know that many of our happily married couples in church met one another while they were actively serving together in Sunday School or in a fellowship group?

I met my wife when I was involved in an outreach of our church in Johor Bahru in 1985. She was from the Chinese service and I was from the English service, and we would never have met if both of us had not been serving the Lord. Thus it was God who brought us together. The story of the Book of Ruth demonstrates to us that the Lord is still our best match-maker. Therefore if you are a single adult, and trusting the Lord to lead you to the right person, take this advice: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)

C. All Should Strive to Live for Christ

But there is one thing that the church must definitely do for all its single adults: and that is to instruct and encourage them to live the abundant and victorious Christian life whether or not they choose to remain single or to get married to someone. If a Christian is not living fully satisfied with Christ, then he or she is not prepared for life at all, whether as a single adult nor as a spouse. And this is what we want to focus our attention on for the rest of this message: The abundant life, the Christ-centred life for single adults. Here are a few guidelines on abundant living for single adults:

1. Learn the secret of single living: Not self-sufficiency, but sufficiency in Christ.

Some popular self-improvement books on the market today teach that people should have a good sense of his own worth or what they call, self-esteem. They claim that successful living comes from building your self-confidence and self-sufficiency, and then going on to fulfill your life ambitions and dreams. They tell you to live up to your fullest potential, and some would even teach some breathing and meditation techniques that help you to get in touch with your ‘inner self’ in order to tap the powerful resources that are supposedly found there. Is this what you need for single living?

No, not according to the Scriptures. By the way, you must be careful of these teachings of self-worth and realizing your full potential, because much of this is coming now from the New Age movement, which is an end-time Satanic deception. The Scriptures, do not teach self-confidence or self-sufficiency, but confidence and sufficiency in Christ alone.

Single adults would do well to follow what the apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4:11 – “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Paul had learnt to be content with whatever he had. He found that he could be contented with much, and he could also be contented with little. And Paul himself would also never be able to be content on his own strength or willpower. Actually he needed help in order to be content. The contentment that he mentioned here came through Jesus Christ, as he says in v.13 – “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” It was through Jesus Christ alone that he coped very well with any situation he faced as a single adult - whether it was poverty or prosperity.

And since Paul was a single adult he becomes an example for all single adults to follow. Learn how to find your sufficiency in Christ, learn to be content with whatever state you find yourself in so that you will know how to abound and how to be abased. Keep on telling yourself: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

2. Regard your singlehood as an opportunity to discover and become all that God wants you to be.

Singlehood affords the best season for unhindered personal growth and development. And as a Christian single adult, your mission in life should be to do all that God wants you to do and be all that God wants you to be. And if you want to discover what all these are, learn to discern or prove what is God’s will for you, at each step of His plan for your life. Spend time with the Lord in prayer and His word, seek counsel and advice from mature Christians, consider your own circumstances, and read books by good Christian writers.

Ask the Lord to show you what gifts and skills He wants you to develop and how He wants you to develop them. Attend workshops and seminars that help you to develop the skills you need. Then find opportunities to utilize your God-given abilities. For example, if you have administrative gifts and relate well with people, you can be a real asset to any committee. If your strength is in teaching, you can learn how to lead a Bible study group – begin by being a co-teacher.

Use the opportunity of singlehood also to get rid of things in your life that are sinful or unedifying. E.g. some bad habits, or traits. If you look at yourself and find that you have some faults and unpleasant personality problems, don’t be discouraged. Remember: The Lord is still working in your life and is not yet finished with you. Philippians 2:12,13 tells us that God will work in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure, as you yourself work out your salvation with fear and trembling.

3. Cultivate self-discipline with your use of time, talents and treasures.

Do not become what people call a ‘swinging single’ – living without any real direction in life, and just trying out whatever comes along. I have known some single adults who do not like to commit themselves permanently to anything. They just want to be a free spirit, flitting from one thing to another, changing jobs, traveling around the world, going on wild adventures. You know, this kind of life may look quite attractive for single adults but it accomplishes nothing, and only leads to regrets later on.

Remember that as a Christian single adult, you are still accountable to God for your use of time and talents. Maximise all of these things for God’s Kingdom. In order to exercise good stewardship, you need to set specific goals for yourself. Then aim for it and cultivate self-discipline to work towards it. In Philippians 3:13 the apostle Paul said “…this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus”. In other words, live for a good purpose and keep yourself firmly to it.

I used to know a friend who was single, and he would get very excited about something, start on it, but after that, did not have staying power to continue on with it. Learn how to be dependable, to be someone that others can rely on. Paul said “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection…” (1 Corinthians 9:27). Ask the Lord to make you a disciplined and dependable channel of blessing to others, someone who will not be easily discouraged when problems and difficulties arise.

4. Make as significant a contribution as you can, to the Lord’s work, whenever there is opportunity.

E.g. If you are good at using a computer to do presentations, you can offer to teach others how to make good presentations for teaching a Bible lesson. If you are a skilled in accountancy, offer to conduct a small course for those who can learn how to set up a fellowship or church accounts. If you are a good writer, conduct a course on how to write good articles for reporting on the Lord’s work. If you are a doctor or nurse you can go on short medical mission trips overseas to facilitate gospel outreachThere are many ministries that you can serve well in: Publication of bulletins, maintaining the bulletin board, and sourcing material for Vacation Bible School.

The possibilities available for Christian singles are endless, if you will only look for them and be sensitive to the Lord’s guidance, wherever He places you. Make it a point to pray, “Lord, here I am, You have placed me here. Please use me to the full. Maximise my potential. Show me how I can use the gifts You have given me to bless the lives of those around me. Lord, I want to leave this place in a different state from the time when I first came into it.”

Single adults have the potential to become responsible spiritual leaders who are committed to serving God and the needs of the church. Singlehood affords some very unique opportunities that others do not have:

a. More time to invest

Many single adults have plenty of time on their hands, and do not know what to do with it. In fact some live with the illusion that they have limitless time. But unfortunately today, many of them choose to invest most of it in their own careers.

A typical young urban professional (or “yuppie”) becomes a workaholic working longer hours, pursuing more contacts or leads, making more sales presentations, and doing more billings than his married counterpart. And because of the high level of dedication that he is well capable of, he is rewarded well with a raise, a bonus and quick promotion up the corporate ladder.

Listen: If you have time on your hands, there is something much better for you than this: God has great work for you to invest your time in, and He will use your time well – to produce results that will endure for eternity!

b. More mobility

Many single adults are able to travel more easily and widely than others, and for that reason, can easily root and uproot themselves than those who have families. Some of our church missionaries are single. And they are doing a fine work in their mission fields.

In many of our mission trips a good number of those who went were single adults. And they are able to do a lot to encourage missionaries. Do you know that single ladies have been the power of the worldwide missionary force? According to missiologists, single women have been among the finest missionaries in the world. Despite the handicaps in which they live, they serve the Lord well. They are well-integrated personalities and adjust readily to new circumstances and situations. They are often cheerful, conscientious, hard-working and co-operative. They are free from the duties of housework and motherhood and can spend more time with people they minister to, especially women and children.

It is interesting to note that those missions that work in the more primitive fields where both life and work are hard usually have a higher than average ratio of women to men. In some missions they outnumber men two and three to one. Much pioneer missionary work is actually being done by single women. They do it cheerfully and ask no questions.

4. Develop meaningful relationships with other single adults.

Make yourself accountable to someone, e.g. a mentor or a prayer partner. This will help you to keep yourself focused on your ministry, your goals and objectives. I used to have a prayer partner when I was a student. Without fail we would meet every morning before classes began to pray for one another and for Singapore. We would share our joys and our sorrows. These relationships can also take the form of discipleship. Take a young Christian under your wing – be a mentor to him, build him up, watch him grow and encourage him to do the same for someone else. I was able to do that before, when I was single. Discipleship requires much concentrated time, effort and prayer.

May the Lord bless the single adults in our church and use them mightily for His glory.

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

November 19 & 26 - The End of the World

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 2 Peter 3:10