經文﹕哥林多前書 7 ﹕ 25-40
題目 ﹕ 單身的挑戰
主旨 ﹕ 因為單身生活是神所喜悅的 , 靠著祂的恩惠我們能有一個滿足的生命。
根據兩千年的人口普查，全美總人口中至少有百分之四十五屬於單身 族，這其中包括了從來未婚者、寡居者、和離婚族。 雖然單身 族將近占了總人口中的百分之五十，但是我們的社會常常沒有能夠很好的去接納單身者。當你走入餐廳，侍者會問你：“請問你是一個人 嗎 ? ” 當你旅行時，偶爾你會找到好價錢的房間，但仔細一看，小字卻寫著：雙人房間。
有時別人會向你推薦單身方面的書籍，書中講到了關於單身的各種好處。但你剛讀完不久，卻發現作者剛剛結婚了（心有點下沉，是不是？）。另外一些時候，我們會覺得教會不知道怎樣對待我們，我們教會有家庭生活月，家庭生活討論會，我們也定一個沒有單身生活月怎麼樣？退修會時，夫婦可以分到象汽車旅館一樣的房間，但單身族們卻被趕到大宿舍，八到十人住一間。教會也把我們分到單身小組，希望我們從此過著幸福的生活。當需要事奉時，教會會發出號召：“讓單身們來參與，因為他們 有的是時間 。” 當然在這聖誕節期，會感覺到特別的弧單。
今天早晨，我會很細心地 再 來探討一下單身生活這個專題。２ 年前我們也一起的研讀過這段經文。每當談到這題目時 ， 我也常常提醒自己：我結婚已經許多年了，關於單身生活，我還瞭解多少哪？我將盡力把我們帶到神的話語上面，看一看神在單身 的事上 講了什麼話。
我們再看一下大的圖畫，在起初創造的時候，神給了人類三個命令： 有關 社會、文化、 靈性 。關於社會方面的命令， 我們知道 神 認為 人獨居不好，人要 在群體中 生活， 在群體 生活 中 最密切的關系就是夫妻之間的關係。不錯，神的本意是要男女結合成家庭，但是由於人的叛逆，這 群體生活 被扭曲和破壞掉了， 因此 獨居和孤獨 便 成了人生的一部分。對某些人來說獨居是一種選擇，對另外一些人來說是暫時 過度 狀態，而對大部分人來說則是因為還沒有遇到合適的 對象 、離婚、配偶死亡，或者其他的原因。
我們 過去 在學習哥林多前書的時候知道，保羅寫這封書信的時，哥林多的信徒們正處在一個很艱難的境地，他們正遭受到迫害和種種艱難。因而他們向保羅詢問有關婚姻方面的問題。在本章的第一節經文 裏 ，保羅回復說：“ 關於你們信上所提的事，我認為男人不親近女人倒好 。 ” 在第八節說：“ 我現在要對未婚的人和寡婦說，他們若保持像我這樣就好了； ” 然後在第二十六節又說道：“ 為了目前的困難，我認為人最好能保持現狀。 ” 你若已結婚，生活在婚姻 裏 是好的。你若還未婚，保持單是身好 的 。 保羅在這裡３次用到好這個字， 單身是好的。
保羅的觀點和我們今天社會的觀點非常不同，是不是？我們總會不自覺地把單身族當成二等公民，而把婚姻生活當成我們生命的首要目標。在看到或聽到類似 eHarmony 之類的廣告時，我們會情不自盡地感受到我們 的確 失去了我們生命中最 重要的事 ， 我有時 真想要欲試，看會得到什麼樣的配對。
請聽：溫婉恬靜女人香 : 蓉蓉四十三、一點六六高，離無累、白領、天生麗質、膚白、高雅賢淑、真誠開朗、重情懂生活、有情趣、善解人意、特具女人味。覓六十歲內、品正受過良好教育，事業穩定男士。這類廣告會給你一種印象，人生的唯一目的就是為了成婚。我們可以理解到人對伴侶的需要，因為孤獨是一種很難受的感覺。但是， 在 這 裏 ，我要提醒大家：有時在婚姻 裏 ，一旦關係有裂痕或者破裂，那種孤獨比單身的孤單還要可怕。你看，婚姻並非是解決孤獨的靈丹廟藥。如果你只是為了消除孤獨而結婚，那你一定會大失所望。
我們要提醒自己：單身是好的， 是 我們應當接納 的 。
< 哥林多前書 >7 ﹕ 7 “ 我願人人都像我一樣；只是各人有各人從 神得來的恩賜，有人是這樣，有人是那樣。 ” 保羅說有人有婚姻的恩賜，有人有單身的恩賜。單身是一種恩賜。我們當中有些人會馬上 站 起來說我沒有這種恩賜。我們常聽人說，我太太或我先生是我在 2006 年受到的最好的禮物。因此，我們常會這樣禱告，主啊，請在 2007 年賜給我一個先生或太太，這是你可以賜給我的最好禮物。或者 像 一位單身女士那樣，把一件男式大衣掛在床邊，禱告說，神啊，求你將你揀選的人充滿這件衣服。好 像 真正的禮物就是一個先生或太太。我們應當知道，如果我們現在是單身，這就是神賜給我們的禮物。將來，神 或許會將那 合適的人帶 入 我們的生命中。
Elizabeth Elliot 說過：“我們 目前的樣式 就是一件禮物， 像 其他 的 禮物一樣，是由送禮物的人所 決 定的。我們沒有選擇的權利。” 如果你已婚，這是神送給你的禮物。若你是單身，這也是神送給你的禮物。神沒有讓你擔心單身這件禮物是否是終身的，但神卻給我們賜下恩典，讓我們可以把今天過的很美好。我們不要和神 抗拒 ，不要懷有怨恨。相反，我們應該學會順服神，順服神 在我們生命中 的計畫。如果單身就是神賜給我們的禮物，我們就應該學會以感恩的心來接受。
你也可以 嘗 試不同的職業或事奉的 機會 。安排好優先順序，把更多的時間放在神的工作上面。你也可以 充實 你的生活，比如與更多的人交往、閱讀、旅遊、和盡情享受現在的生活。
單身生活是一種好的生活方式，單身是神送給我們的一件禮物。保羅 也 解釋，單身生活是可以滿足的。
< 哥林多前書 >7 ﹕ 28 ：“… 如果你娶妻子，這不是犯罪；如果處女出嫁，也不是犯罪。不過，這樣的人要受肉體上的苦難，我卻不願你們受這苦難。 ”苦難在希臘文 裏 是指擠壓在一起。 John Macarthur 解釋道：“婚姻關係中人和人被擠壓在一起，指的是夫妻人性的軟弱被擠壓在一起，最終會導 致 [WH1] 婚姻 裡的 衝突和問題。” 保羅說他不願看到我們陷於這樣的 痛 苦 裏 面。
32 節：“ 我願你們無所掛慮。沒有娶妻子的人，掛念的是主的事，想怎樣去得主喜悅； …” 什麼樣的掛慮？從這段經文 裏 可以看出，保羅很顯然是指家庭關係：夫妻之間的關係，父母和孩子們的關係，以及兄弟姊妹間的關係。在受壓迫或困苦的時代，單身者有比較少的擔憂。
在者幾段經文 裏 我們會看到一個簡單的事實：我們單身的時候生活比較簡單。對於單身的人來說，你願意到哪里就到哪里而不需要顧慮到配偶和孩子們的意見。你可以掂得起放得下，你也可以靠微薄得收入撐上一段日子而不需要掛慮家人是否饑餓。
保持單身還有另外一 個 重要的原因，或者叫作另一種優勢。 32 節： “… 沒有娶妻子的人，掛念的是主的事，想怎樣去得主喜悅 , …34. 沒有結婚的婦女和守獨身的女子，掛念的是主的事， …..35. 我說這話，是為了你們自己的益處；我不是要限制你們，而是要你們作合宜的事，一心一意地對主忠誠。 ＂ 保羅的觀點非常明確，是不是？作為單身者，我們可以把更多的精力放在神的事工上。
這讓我想到 John Stott 和 Jim Packer ， 這兩位弟兄 都沒有結婚。常聽人說，如果他們不是單身的話，他們也許不會寫出這麼多的書和產生這樣大的影響。你會說，世上只有一個 John Stott, 一個 J .I. Packer 。請看下 面 。一位單身的姊妹上個禮拜告訴我，她請了一些有煩惱的姊妹下班後 去 吃飯。假如你已經結婚的話，你也許沒有時間這樣做。還有一位單身族告訴我 說 ：“我常常會在半夜十一二點的要休息的時候接到電話，這些電話多半是有困難或緊急需要的朋友們打來的。我接到電話後 就 起來傾聽她們的談話。一個有家室的人還會這樣做嗎？” 還有在一個教會，單身小組每禮拜天早晨八點 在 教會 有 查經和禱告會，然後他們會參加第一堂崇拜，再之後他們會參 與 兒童事工 的服事 。他們每禮拜天從早上七點 半 到下午十二點半一直在教會。有小孩的夫婦很難能夠 想像 他們這樣事奉。
我們看到一些簡單準則：單身生活，就 像 婚姻生活一樣，是一種正 常 的生活方式。一些人自願過單身生活，另一些人則無論如何也要結婚。單身可以讓我們脫離家庭的拖累，而過一種簡單的生活。單身生活也給我們提供更多的機會讓我們把注意力轉向神。
多 年前我 北歐 一個城市證道，一位弟兄開車把我接去教會。在車上，有一位二十多歲的姊妹坐在後座。過了一段時間，我遲疑的問道：“你們是 不是 ？” 他笑了，她說道：“噢，不是。他太太要比我漂亮多了。”這句話也反映了她的自我形象，是不是？單身的人常常 以不健康的方式 看自己，沒有人喜歡我是因為我不夠漂亮。我們把自己看成是有缺陷的商品，二等公民。這是錯誤的觀點。
相反，我們應該從神的觀點來看自己。〈詩篇〉 139 ： 13-14 ：“ 我的臟腑是你所造的，在我母腹中你塑造了我。 14 我要稱謝你，因為我的受造奇妙可畏；你的作為奇妙，這是我深深知道的。 ”我們在神的眼光中是非常寶貴的，我們應該對自己是單身貴族而感到自豪才對。
有時我們會聽到，當我更成熟的時候，神會把合適的人帶到我的生命 裏 。好 像 我們把婚姻當作是我們把一件事情做好後神對我們的獎賞。這是不對的。
我們應當把重心放在神 現在要 我成為什麼樣的人，神 要將 我們 塑造 得更加 像 他。神希望利用單身這樣的環境來使我們更加依賴他，讓我們能夠在各樣的環境中都能 有喜樂 的心。神也會利用我們的室友、同事、教會中的朋友來磨練我們，把我們塑造得更加象他。
在我們 屬靈生命裡 ，我們應當知道神並沒有允許他會實現我們的每一個願望，包括我們希望有一個配偶的願望。但是神的確給了我們許多應許，比如：他會與我們同在，他理解我們，他瞭解我們的憂傷，他會饒恕我們，他 扶 持我們，他撫平我們的懼怕，他引導我們，他是滿有智慧的，他會豐豐富富地愛我們，他是完全可以讓我們信賴的，他 絕 不會讓我們 失望 。如果我們沒有看到這些真理的話，我們會陷入自卑自憐的泥坑，把自己弄得痛苦不堪。
在今天這樣的社會風氣下面，有一件事我要再一次強調：那就是要保持 性方面 的純潔。這是第七章的中心。因為我在前幾個禮拜已經用了大量篇幅在這個題目上面，今天早晨我只提道德純潔的 另 一方面。我們知道性 慾 是身體 裏 一股很強大的力量， 很多人就被它驅使，一次又一次的失敗 ，但我們不 需 要被它控制和驅使，求神給你力量使你可以自 制 、自律。設好明確的界限，不要進入可導致你犯罪的環境 裏 。也可以找要好的朋友把你的 掙扎分享 ， 好讓他 幫你 , 鼓勵你 。
我們怎樣可以幫助和鼓勵單身的朋友？ Lori Smith 在近期〈 門 徒〉雜誌的一篇文章中寫道：“要 特別 找出時間和單身朋友分享，詢問他們的工作和生活，很坦白地和他們分享婚姻生活中的掙扎和喜樂。要提醒他們 目前 是 蒙神所 祝福的。確 定 神的應許，要借著他們 , 無論單身的還是有家室的 , 做出美好的事工。”
當然也有許多不可以做的事，不要勉強撮合他們，不要把他們當 作還沒到岸的人 看待 （你什麼都很好，就是還沒結婚） ，不要讓他們感到他們必須做某些事或變得 像 某些人才可以得到婚姻。在教會活動中，不要因為
我要引用 Lori Smith 〈單身的真理〉一句話作為結束。她在書中寫道，有一次一位很要好的朋友問她：“如果你不結婚 的話 ，你希望你 有一個 什麼樣的人生？”這個問題讓她浮想連篇。她說：我要我的一生充滿 對神的敬畏 、 服侍 和愛，充滿活力，而沒有怨恨。也許我會上研究院，參加宣教事工，收養一個小孩，或辦一所 收 養 無父母的孩子的家 。 這一切的可能性是沒有限制的 ， 他們都是在神的手中。
我現在 也 向你提出同樣的問題：“如果你不結婚 的話 ，你希望你 有一個 什麼樣的人生？”
Text: 1 Corinthians 7:25-40
Title: Challenges of Being Single
Theme: Since God sees singlehood as a valid life style, with His help we can truly live a full life as single man and woman.
A single woman told me a recurring episode. She would meet some one and they would get in small talk. She would be asked: So how many children do you have? Answer: I am single. There is a pause. “ Oh, you are so lucky. You just don’t know how much trouble children are.”
Even though almost 50% of the population is single, yet our society is often not very single-friendly. A a single person sometimes, may feel that one doesn't fit too well in this society. When you go to a restaurant, they ask, "Are you by yourself? ＂ When you travel, you will come across a good price. But the fine prints say: double occupancy.
There are times someone may recommend to you a book on being single. It talks about all the great things of singlehood. Shortly after you read it, you find out this author just got married (kind of a let down, right?). At times we feel the church doesn't know what to do with us. We have family life month, family life conference. How about single life month? When there is a retreat, the couples get to stay in motel-like rooms, but the singles are dumped into those dormitory like rooms, with 8 or 10 others. The church put us in a singles' group, and wishes that we live happily ever after. When there is a need in ministry, the church would say, "Let’s get the singles involved, because they have all the time in the world." Certainly, during the thanksgiving and Christmas season, the worst feeling is that sense of loneliness.
This morning I'd like to discuss this topic of singlehood with great care and sensitivity. I always remind myself that having been married for so many years, what do I know about being single. I’ll do my best to point us to God's word and see what He has to say about singlehood.
Again, we need to first look at the big picture. At the very beginning of creation, God gave mankind 3 mandates: Social, Cultural and Spiritual. In the social mandate, we are told that human beings are not meant to live alone, we are to live in a community. The most intimate form of this relationship is between husband and wife. Yes, it is God's original intent that a man is to marry a woman and form a family. However, because of human disobedience, this community was distorted and broken. Living alone and being lonely has become a part of human experience. To some, being single is a choice, others a transitional stage, and to many it is forced upon by not meeting the right person, divorce or death or other circumstances. Let’s now take a look at what God teaches us on this subject.
I. Singlehood is a good way of life before God. .
In our previous study of 1 Corinthians, we learned that at the time of Paul’s writing this letter, the believers in Corinth were undergoing a hard time. They were experiencing persecution and other unspecified difficulties. So they asked Paul about the issue on marriage. In vs.1 of this chapter, Paul responded, “ Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.”. In vs.8, “ 8 To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am.” And then in vs.26, “think that in view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is.” If you are married, it is good to stay married. If you are not married, it is good that you stay unmarried. Please note that three times Paul said it is good to remain single. Being single is good.
This is quite different from our society, right? We somehow make single people feel they are 2 nd class citizens. We make married life the primary objective in life. When we see and hear enough of the eHarmony commercials, it can certainly make us feel we have missed out the best in life. Even I am tempted to give that a try and see what kind of match I may get!!!
Listen to this: SAF, age 35, professional, seeks attractive, sensitive SAM/SWM, age 30-40, for marriage. Send letter with photo to 10305 South Main or email to: This certainly give you the impression that the only objective in life is to get married. We certainly understand the need for companionship, the feeling of loneliness is quite terrible. However, having said that, it is good to be reminded that sometimes even in married life, when the relationship is strained or broken, it can be terribly lonely. You see, loneliness is not to be resolved by marriage. If we marry for the sake of removing loneliness, we may be very disappointed.
We need to remind ourselves that being single is good, is acceptable.
II. Singlehood is a gift from God. .
1 Cor. 7:7, “ 7 I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.” Paul said some had the gift of husband and wife, another had the gift of being single.” To be single is a gift. Some of us will readily admit that we don’t have the gift. We often hear people say that best gift I received in 2006, is my wife or husband. Consequently, our prayer for 2007 is that, God please give me a husband or wife, this is the best gift you can give me. Or like a single lady who would hang a man’s overall near her bed and prayed that God would fill it with a man of his choice. The real gift we want is a husband or wife. It will be good to know that at this moment, at present, if I am single, this is a gift of God. Later on, God may bring the right person into our lives.
Elisabeth Elliot says, "What we are is a gift, and, like other gifts, chosen by the giver alone. We were not presented with an array of options." If you are married, this is a gift from God. If you are single, this is also a gift from God. God has not left you to worry over whether the gift of singleness is yours for a lifetime. But He has given you grace to live contentedly today. We’re not to fight against God, being bitter toward him. instead we learn to be submissive to him, to his master plan for our lives. If this is a gift, then we’ll have to learn to accept it with gratitude.
At the present, today, to live contentedly means making the best of now. I have seen many singles living in a holding pattern. I'll do this or get that after I am married. We don't have to live like this. If you have the financial ability, buy a house or condo. Decorate your home that reflects your taste and style. You can open your home to others, making it into a place where others can feel your welcome and warmth.
You can explore different career and ministry opportunities. Set your priorities and give your time generously to God's work. You're to continue to enrich your life, such as developing relationships with others, reading books, traveling and learning to enjoy life now.
III. Singlehood can be fulfilling.
Singlehood is a good way of life. Being single can be a gift for God. Now, Paul also explain to us how we can be single and at the same time live a fulfilling life.
1. A simpler life-style.
v28,"...those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you (the singles) this. " The word trouble in Greek means pressing together. John Macarthur interprets it as: the pressing together of humanness in a marriage relationship. It refers to the pressing together of husband and wife's human weaknesses. And this inevitably leads to conflicts and problems in marriage. And so Paul says I don't want to see you in those situations.
v32,"I would like you to be free from concern..... "What kind of concern? From the context of this passage, it's apparent that Paul was referring to family relationships: husband and wife, parents and children and among siblings. In times of persecution or hardship, a single person has much less to worry about.
In these few verses is a simple principle; life is simpler when you are single. As a single person, you can go to places you like and not to worry whether your spouse or children like it or not. You can just pick up and go, and live on minimum income for a while without the worry of a hungry family.
2. Availability to God.
But there is another very important reason for being single, or another advantage of singlehood. v32,"..an unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs.. "34,"An unmarried woman is concerned about the Lord's affair... v35,"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. " Paul's point is quite clear, isn't it? As a single person, you can dedicate more of your devotion to God and his people.
I think of John Stott and JI Packer. Both of them are unmarried. It has often been said that they could not have written so many books and have such world wide influence if they were married. However, there is only one John Stott and one Packer and we are not them. How about this? This past week a single person said that she is taking some individuals in distress to dinner after work. If you are married, you are not that free to do it, right? Or another single person said, “From time to time I would receive phone calls at 11 or 12am just when I was about to go to sleep. They were calls from friends who were in trouble or going through great difficulties. I would then go and meet with them, talking and listening to them. Can you imagine a married person doing this?” Or in a certain church, the singles group would meet at 8am on Sunday morning for a time of Bible study and prayers. Then they would attend the first worship service. After that, they would go and help out with the children’s ministry. They would be at church from 7:30 am to 12:30pm. Married couples with children simply cannot do this.
III. Some additional suggestions.
We have identified some simple principles: singlehood is a valid life-style, just as being married is. Some willingly accept being single, others want to get married no matter what. Being single can free us to live a simpler life. Singlehood provides us with opportunities to offer our undivided attention to God. Now I would like to share with you some practical suggestions.
1. Positive self-perception.
Several years ago I was preaching in another city. A brother came to pick me up to go to church. When I got in the car, a girl in her 20s was sitting in the back. After a little while I hesitantly asked, "Are you two related?" He laughed and she said, "Oh, no, his wife is much prettier." This says a lot about her, doesn't it? So often the single person looks at himself rather degradingly. No one likes me because I'm not good looking. We see ourselves as defective merchandise, 2nd rate citizen. This is wrong.
On the contrary, we're to look at ourselves from God's perspective. Psalm 139:13-14,"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." We're very precious in God's sight. We can proudly say that we are the Noble singles ( 單身貴族 )
2. Watch what you are becoming.
Sometimes we hear people say, when I'm more mature, then God will bring the right person into my life. We look at marriage as a reward for a job well done. This is wrong.
We need to focus on what God wants me to be now. He wants to transform me into his likeness. God works in situations such as being single to help me to trust him and to be joyous in all circumstances. He also uses our roommates, colleagues, friends at church, to sharpen and mold us into becoming more like him.
3. Our walk with the Lord.
In our spiritual walk, it will be good for us to remember that God doesn’t guarantee that he will fulfill all our desires, including the desire for a spouse. But he does give us many promises. Such as: He is with us, He understands us, He considers our sorrows, He forgives us, He sustains us, he calms our fears, he guides us, He is completely wise, He loves us abundantly, He is completely trustworthy, He will not fail us. When we lose sight of these truths, we will begin to wallow in self-pity, making ourselves very miserable.
4. Moral purity.
There's one thing I can't stress more in today's society, that is to keep yourself sexually pure. This is the focus in chapter 7. Since I have spoken quite extensively on this subject a few weeks ago, this morning I’ll just mention one aspect of this moral purity. Yes, we understand that the sexual drive is a very strong force in life. But it does not have to dominate and control us. Ask God to give you strength to have discipline and control over your desire. Set clear boundaries so you do not get into situations that will lead to sin. Find a close friend that you can talk to about your temptations so that he or she can hold you accountable.
5. Encouraging the single friends.
How can we help and encourage our single friends? Lori Smith, in an article in the recent Discipleship journal, wrote the following: Make time for them, ask them about their work and activities. Be honest about the struggles and joys of married life. Remind them that they are blessed at where God wants them to be. Affirm God's promise to do something good with their lives--- married or not.
Certainly there are plenty of don’ts. Don’t offer to set them up with someone. Don’t treat them as if they haven’t arrived yet. Don’t suggest or imply that they need to do something or become someone else in order to get the blessing of marriage. Don’t exclude them from activities because they are single.
I would like to conclude with excerpts from the book, “The Single Truth” by Lori Smith. She wrote that one time a very dear friend of her asked, “What do you want your life to be like if you don’t get married?” This question started her dreaming. I want my life to be full of devotion and service and love----- full of life, not bitterness. Perhaps I’ll go to graduate school, do mission work, adopt a child, start a foster home. The possibilities are endless---- and they are all in God's hands.
I, too, want to leave you with this question: What do you want your life to be like if you don’t marry?
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