Episode 10: Living as Seniors, Married, Parents, & Singles

Peace to Live By Episode 10: Living as Seniors, Married, Parents, & Singles - Daniel Litton
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[Transcripts may not match broadcasted sermon word for word, and may contain extra material that was cut from the broadcast due to time constraints]

       Our goal, as Christians, is to live the best lives that we can. One of the most important things in life, as human beings, is the way we live in our different areas of life. So, it is important to understand how one should live—no matter what area of life he or she is currently in. To get us started off, I would like to read a quote from Teddy Roosevelt that I think gives us a pretty good summery on how we, as Christians, should conduct ourselves in living the Christian life:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

So, today, I am going to discuss how a man and woman should live in various areas of the Christian life.

       Now in order to move through this challenge, I want to break our discussion today into four different categories. I have chosen to approach this subject through different areas in life that people are in at in different points of their lives. For each category, I will discuss both men and women. First, I will start by discussing older people, then married people, next fathers and mothers, and finally single people. There are various ways this information could be presented, but this is the way I have chosen to present it.

       Before I get started, though, I want to state that in our society today in the United States, we as people are constantly presented with many, varying perspectives on how we are to live our lives. Most of what is laid out before us does not line up with what the Bible says. Therefore, a person needs to have a way to discern what is right and what is wrong. That is, what we believe to be true, as Christians, is found in the Bible, as the Scriptures are more than adequate to tell us everything we need for life and godliness. While America may have a better model for living than other societies, it certainly is not perfect and often times does not even come close to matching what the Bible says. Nonetheless, let us examine what the Bible does say about manhood and womanhood, how a man and woman should live in various areas of the Christian life.

       First, let's start out by looking at what the Bible says about older men and women. For older men, the Apostle Paul states the following to Titus, who was a minster: “Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness” (Titus 2:2, ESV). I think here in America, often the verse I just read is true with older men, as many of us have, or have had grandfathers who model good, dignified behavior, or have known this to be true in older people. But, Paul notes that the goal for every older man is to have an honorable character. This includes having a sound mind, free from worldly pursuits and passions. This older person should be grand and noble, and have control of oneself. The person should also be a model Christian, when the person has been in the faith a long time, show pure love, and be dependable and trustworthy.

       Now, for older women, Paul said to Titus, “Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled” (Titus 2:3-5, ESV). So, an older woman shows her good example by respecting her husband, if she has one. She should have control of what she says, and should not be like to drink a lot. She is to be a teacher of younger women, like her daughter, as she hopefully models the behaviors that she teaches.

       Now, let's talk about husbands and wives. For a married man, we can note the following passage from the Apostle Paul:

”Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (Ephesians 5:25-33, ESV)

One of the most basic things about being a husband is that of loving your wife. It's too bad I even have to state that, but for many husbands, I think that I do. If you’re a Christian, and God blessed you with a wife, why wouldn't you show love to your wife? Many of you do, but many of you don't. Many husbands put themselves first all the time. It's not wrong to put yourself first some of the time, but don't be self-centered. You married the girl; you think she is beautiful. So, why not give yourself up for her on a daily basis? Do you love your wife as much as you love yourself? Hopefully, you love her more than yourself.

       Ok, now let's discuss the role of a wife. Let’s look at Ephesians 5:22-24, which states the following:

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands” (ESV).

We can see a number of things from this passage. First, husbands, just because Paul talks about a wife submitting doesn't mean you get to bully your wife around. The passage tells us that the wife is supposed to submit, or one could say yield, when necessary, to the husband’s will. This includes the husband’s leading, as we saw in the next verse. Since the husband is the head of the wife, and this a result of the fall of the human race in Genesis 3, in that God setup these roles for the husband and the wife, the wife should willing seek to be in agreement with her husband when necessary, and should do this gladly. This does not mean the wife does not have any say in matters, or cannot do things she wants to do. Please don’t make more of what the Apostle Paul said. And the idea here in this text is that the husband’s perspective be honored since he is the head.

       Now let's talk about the roles of fathers and mothers. Ephesians 6:4 states, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (ESV). Colossians 3:21 puts it this way: “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged” (ESV). Fathers being overbearing on their child or children is perhaps one of the greatest problems with fatherhood today in this country, in my opinion. It seems that nothing would discourage a child more than to have a father who is typically critical and negative toward him or her. So, fathers need to strive to not act in this way toward their children. If they do, the verse we just read states that the child will become angry, and this is detrimental to his or her development and perspective on the world around him or her. The child may obtain a wrong view of people around him or her, a suspicious and paranoid view, and even worse may develop an incorrect view about God. I believe this one of the reasons as to why we see so many developmental disorders being diagnosed in children today. When I was studying for my degree in psychology, I kept seeing this pattern of incorrect fatherhood over and over.

       Fathers are also supposed to show discipline to their children, as the following verse clearly states. Proverbs 13:24 says, “If you do not punish your children, you don’t love them, but if you love your children, you will correct them” (NCV). One of the things they taught us in college is that parents need to usurp authority over their children. Now, the degree of which this authority is to be demonstrated is highly debated, as only seems right. But I can tell a parent from a mile away who has limited control of his or her kids, as I am sure many of you can. And this is a sad state of affairs when we see this, and it definitely begets teenage problems later in people's lives. I am convinced that whenever I become a parent, if indeed I do, I am going to work hardest at keeping my word to my child or children in all circumstances. This lays the foundation for discipline. Going back to the Ephesians 6:4 verse, it says, “but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (ESV). Where do these rules come from whereby the father disciplines the son? The verse tells us that the father is to raise the children in the Lord’s instruction. The very use of the name Lord for God means that he is the ultimate head and the rule giver. Therefore, fathers should raise their children by teaching them what the Bible says is right.

       I would like to also talk about how a woman is to conduct herself as a mother. It seems reasonable to presume that motherhood is the hardest and perhaps most important job in our world. I do not say that lightly, but I think that how children are raised certainly affects, in most cases, the quality of life they experience in adulthood. I don’t mean to say that father’s aren’t responsible for raising children, as we just discussed that they are. But mothers generally spend more time with the children, if they don’t work, and therefore often times have a great influence on them. It’s not wrong for a mother to work, but I think it’s safe to say that a mother will have greater impact on the child or children if she is with them more. So, motherhood then is very important. 1 Timothy 5:14 says that, “So I want the younger widows to marry, have children, and manage their homes. Then no enemy will have any reason to criticize them” (NCV). Granted, even though this verse is talking about widows, the information presented is applicable to young mothers in general. The key focus here is that women are to “manage their homes” (NCV). This is an important role for the mother, as this includes the raising of the children obviously. This good behavior of raising the children properly then gives Satan no standing by which to accuse mothers before God's throne (see Revelation 12:10). In managing the household, then, mothers will undoubtedly show discipline.

       We've all seen the children in the grocery store who bully a parent around. The child may be doing something wrong, and the mother, for instance, will aptly reply, "If you do that one more time, then I'm gonna..." (you can fill in the blank). But, of course, often times that one more time comes and goes, and the mother doesn't do anything, doesn't keep her word. And herein lies a problem, the fact that some parents don't keep their word. In discussing mothers, I think as an element of discipline, it is essential for a mother to do, carry through, with what she says. This lays the foundation for discipline. Think about it. If mothers always carried through with their words, their child or children would know they mean business. Where do these rules come from whereby the mother disciplines the son or daughter? Well, as we read earlier, Ephesians 6:4 states that the child is to be raised per the Lord’s instruction. Therefore, mothers should raise their children by teaching them what the Bible says is right.

       It can be said that it is important for mothers and fathers to keep watch on their child to see what his or her interests might be, and then to motivate the child toward those interests. Every child that there is will have some particular interests, obviously, as there is no talentless child. These interests could involve football, writing, architecture, or photography, just to name a few. Just as each of the members of the body of Christ has a particular function, so each child has particular interests. It is good for the mother and father to encourage the child toward those interests, and to help build him or her up, as Christ builds up the church. It is when the parents tear down the child that he or she often proves to be unproductive or unfruitful in life. Of course, this is not always the case, but the parents need to be diligent in helping the child. As stated earlier, a man should not be selfish, only focusing on his own interests, but needs to focus on the interests of his son or daughter. Obviously, this will involve the father spending time with his child, and quality time at that.

       Now, what about you people who aren't married yet, who don’t have kids, or who want to remain single? Turn with me, or tap in your Bible app, to 1 Corinthians 7. I want to note several key texts from this chapter in regard to unmarried people. First, let's look at verses 7 and 8. This is the Apostle Paul speaking. They read as follows:

“I wish that everyone were like me, but each person has his own gift from God. One has one gift, another has another gift. Now for those who are not married and for the widows I say this: It is good for them to stay unmarried as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry. It is better to marry than to burn with sexual desire.” (NCV)

So, we can note that a few people have the gift of singleness. What I tell people, and what I like to say, is that if you have the desire to be in a relationship and to eventually get married, then that should be a good indicator to you that you probably don't have the gift of singleness. God doesn't expect people to live with unfulfilled longing for a companion. Paul stated at the beginning of the chapter: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman. But because sexual sin is a danger, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband” (NCV). You see, if sexual sin is a temptation for you, Christian, then you're probably meant to get married some day.

       So, if you believe you are supposed to get married, how are singles, as Christians, supposed to go about that. Let's consider some more verses in 1 Corinthians 7. I will move around a little here.

Verse 17 states, “But in any case each one of you should continue to live the way God has given you to live—the way you were when God called you. This is a rule I make in all the churches.” Verse 20: “Each one of you should stay the way you were when God called you.” Verse 24: Brothers and sisters, each of you should stay as you were when you were called, and stay there with God. Now I write about people who are not married. I have no command from the Lord about this; I give my opinion. But I can be trusted, because the Lord has shown me mercy. The present time is a time of trouble, so I think it is good for you to stay the way you are. If you have a wife, do not try to become free from her. If you are not married, do not try to find a wife. But if you decide to marry, you have not sinned. And if a girl who has never married decides to marry, she has not sinned. But those who marry will have trouble in this life, and I want you to be free from trouble.” (NCV)

Wow, that’s a lot of consider. Some of you may be focusing on the verse where Paul said, “If you are not married, do not try to find a wife” (NCV). That is true (more on this in a moment). You might say, “What about online dating?” Well, what did the verse say? However, the cop out here is that this is not a command, that of not trying to find a wife, but a divine suggestion, for Paul said “I have no command from the Lord about this; I give my opinion” (NCV). Now, perhaps you run across someone in real life (notice I contrast real life with online dating; I know, that’s my opinion) that you like and who you notice likes you in return. I think meeting someone in 'real' life is best case scenario, when possible. For one, you get the ‘looks’ question out of the way, right away, because, obviously, you see the person.

       But I would like to note one more thing here. Is it ok for a single Christian to date a non-Christian, or unbeliever? Hmm, this is a hard question. We have to be careful here. Perhaps I should rephrase the question. Is it ok for a single Christian to 'go on a date’ with a non-Christian, or unbeliever. I think that's a bit better. Obviously, number one, this depends on a person's self-control. For some, going on 'a date' with a non-Christian would be ok, but for others—those who lack good self-control—it is not a good idea. But, I would say, a Christian probably shouldn't date a non-Christian too long (if he or she doesn't decide to become a Christian) as Paul notes elsewhere the following:

“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18, ESV)

Bottom line, a Christian should never marry a non-Christian. That just wouldn't make any sense, in God's eyes. But love can turn many hearts to God.

       In closing today, perhaps today, friend, you have tried all that you can to live the best way possible. Perhaps you're tired of trying. Well, today I am here to tell you that you can stop trying to be a good enough person because you’ll never be a good enough person, at least in God's eyes. No, friend, in God's eyes, the only person who is good enough is the person who knows Jesus Christ as his or her personal Lord and Savior. And that’s not because the person is actually ‘good,’ who has accepted Jesus, but because God sees the person as good because he or she has repented and accepted Jesus’ sacrifice for their sins. If you don't know Jesus, you will never measure up to God's standard for goodness, for righteousness. God wants to give you today his righteousness so that you can be in right relationship with him. He wants everyone to come to know him—to be in relationship with him. God loves everyone in the world, and wants people to believe in his Son, Jesus' perfect sacrifice of himself on the cross, in your place, as a payment, acceptable to God, for your sins. You can be made right with God today, and have peace with Him, which includes escaping any of his wrath to come, and having eternal life forever in peace.

       If you would like to accept Jesus today as your personal Lord and Savior, then follow my lead in this prayer:

God, I have sinned my whole life, not following your will, but doing the things that I have wanted to. I believe Jesus died on the cross for my sins, and that he rose from the dead so that I might have a new life beginning in you. I surrender my life over to you so that you will make me righteous. Please take my life, and make me a better person; make me like your Son, Jesus. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

-Daniel Litton

Scriptures quoted (NCV) are from The Youth Bible, New Century Version, copyright © 1991 by Word Publishing, Dallas, Texas 75039. Used by permission.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.