In the last portion of 1 Corinthians 7, Paul talks about contentment. In dealing with these matters he says what we really need for contentment is to abide in whatever calling God has called us to. If God has called you to marriage, be content with the marriage. Use it for his glory and make the marriage everything that God can possibly make the marriage be. If, on the other hand, at this point in your life, God has called you to a single state, do not try to be married, because God’s grace is sufficient for the single life. God will bless it, too.
You may think, “I don’t think I can stay unmarried.” Or you may say, “I don’t think I can stay married.” The problem is not your martial status; it is a problem of sin. In our sinful state we are so focused on ourselves, and so stimulated by our culture to focus upon ourselves, that we cannot imagine continuing in a situation, which, from our point of view, is not the most personally satisfying relationship we can imagine. That is not Christianity.
If what you want is to be fulfilled, and you are single and do not believe you can be fulfilled single, you say, “I’ve got to get married.” Or you say, “I’ve got to be fulfilled and I can’t be fulfilled in this relationship. I’ve got to break it off and try again.” In either case you are thinking as the old man. It is the sinful nature within which says, “Me first, me first. I’ve got to satisfy me.” Paul says you must break with that. There is no real growth in the Christian life if you think like that. You must begin with the will of God and determine to serve him. You have to recognize that you are not your own; you were bought with a price, the precious blood of Christ. You are here to serve him. If he calls you to a single life, you should count that all joy and serve him in a single life. If he calls you to a married life, you should count that all joy and serve in a married life. Furthermore, this is the framework in which God is able to use you to bring the fullest measure of blessing in the lives of other people.
You may say, “You don’t know what it’s like. You don’t know what you would do if you were in this circumstance.” That may be true. But what we are to do is not to be determined by whether someone else understands us or not, or even whether we understand the situation ourselves. What we must do is be determined to act based upon what the Word of God says. When we live by that, we find that even if human love disappoints us, the love of the Lord is sufficient and is able to take us up.
There is a hymn by George Matheson that has a wonderful story attached to it. He was engaged to be married to a beautiful girl, but he had an accident that left him blind. As he lay in the hospital recovering from his accident wondering what was going to happen to him and what would happen to the relationship, the girl came to see him. She told him she could not spend her life married to a blind man and she broke off their engagement.
Here he was, a man who had lost his sight and now had lost his love, thrown back upon the love of God. Out of that great grief he wrote what has become one of our great hymns:
Oh, love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee.
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
Oh, light, that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to thee.
My heart restores its borrowed ray
That in thine sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.
Oh, joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee.
I trace the rainbow through the rain
And feel the promise is not vain
That morn shall tearless be.
Oh, Cross, that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee.
I lay in dust life’s glory dead.
And from the ground, there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.
That is a great love. It is not the love of man or of woman; it is the love of God.