6, 7. (a) Does having the gift of singleness mean that one is no longer attracted to the opposite sex and will never marry? (b) What is meant by ‘making a decision in one’s heart’? (c) What question may be in the mind of some single persons?
6 Those who ‘make room for the gift’ are not necessarily persons with some special “gift” in their emotional makeup whereby they no longer are attracted to the opposite sex. These have not made some vow of celibacy, as if they never intended to marry, but have made a “decision,” or judgment, in their hearts to make a success of their single state.* (1 Corinthians 7:37) These persons have weighed in their hearts the advantages of singleness. On the basis of this ‘evidence’ their hearts begin to ‘judge’ singleness as a “gift” and they “make room” for it.—1 Corinthians 7:38.
Draw from an Interchange of Encouragement
10. According to Romans 1:11, 12, what was the apostle Paul’s desire, and how was he benefited?
10 Successful unmarried Christians are people oriented. The apostle Paul, himself a single man, wrote: “I am longing to see you, that I may impart some spiritual gift to you in order for you to be made firm; or, rather, that there may be an interchange of encouragement.” (Romans 1:11, 12) Paul was keenly interested in people and wanted to extend to fellow believers a “spiritual gift.” In return he was encouraged. The same is true today.
11. What experience illustrates how a person may be encouraged through extending a “spiritual gift”?
11 A 28-year-old single Christian woman invited many of the younger sisters in the congregation to her home for a small gathering, desiring to share a “spiritual gift” through wholesome association. The following day one teenager threw her arms around this sister and said: “You will never know how much that gathering meant to me and how I needed the encouragement. I thought that I just could not take the problems at home with my stepmother any longer. Now I feel that I can cope.” As the single sister related this experience, she said, with tears: “I never forgot that. In the long run she did me a real favor, because I felt so good about what she said.” Cultivating a personal interest in others of our ‘spiritual family,’ as appropriate, can help in overcoming loneliness. Yet, effort is needed to develop meaningful friendships.*—Mark 10:29, 30.
12. What opportunities does the disciple-making work open up?
12 However, even beyond opportunities within the Christian congregation to offer ‘spiritual gifts,’ there are those that open up with the disciple-making work. The one giving is often refreshed to see the progress of the learner and to note the lasting comfort that Bible truth can bring. So as you ‘take the lead’ in showing love to those both inside and outside God’s household, your own life will be richer and you will find it easier to ‘remain settled in heart.’—Romans 12:2; Ecclesiastes 11:1; Luke 6:38.
Draw on Power from Above
13. How can 2 Timothy 4:17 be especially encouraging to single Christians?
13 While imprisoned in Rome, the apostle Paul had to face a difficult situation alone. He wrote: “But the Lord stood near me and infused power into me.” (2 Timothy 4:17) By this power Paul was faithful and was delivered either literally or symbolically from “the lion’s mouth.” When symbolic “lions” come into your life, do you turn to your tender Father for help? Do you pour out your heart to him, knowing that even if no one else does, he understands your needs and will stand near you?—1 Peter 5:6-9.
14. (a) With what pressure was one single sister confronted, and how was she blessed? (b) What confidence should 1 Corinthians 10:13 give us?
14 One 53-year-old single sister was crushed when she lost her job. “I begged Jehovah to help me to find some work just to keep things going. Before the week was out I had a new job! From that day on I determined to take a day at a time and rely on Jehovah’s care. He has never let me down.” In 1982, after 26 years of pioneering, her prayer for a spiritually qualified mate was answered as she became the wife of a widowed traveling overseer. True, Jehovah does not always answer our prayers in exactly these ways, but he will strengthen us to deal with whatever problems may persist.—1 Corinthians 10:13.
15. (a) To master sexual desires a person must realize what? (b) How is this illustrated in Proverbs chapter 7?
15 “I feel I just cannot make it alone anymore,” wrote one Christian woman. “I find myself with a strong sexual drive and for years I have been unable to find a suitable Christian husband. I have been told just to go home and control myself. But how?” Coping with such emotions is not easy. To master sexual desires a single person must realize when he or she must start bearing down with self-discipline. For instance, in Proverbs 7:6-23, a young man loses his self-control and in a sexual frenzy ‘goes after’ a prostitute. However, he did not immediately reach this stage. Preliminary steps included (1) walking on her street at night, (2) allowing her to kiss him, and (3) listening to her immoral suggestions. Each step made it harder to have self-control until there was no turning back. As soon as he saw himself pursuing step one, he needed to stop!—Galatians 5:22, 23.
16. While no real Christian would follow the course of the immoral man, what could he possibly do?
16 No real Christian would follow the literal steps of this man, but what about one’s thoughts? Could a person mentally begin ‘going down the street to her house’ by dwelling on immoral thoughts? Right then put on the brakes! Failing to do so may result in mentally progressing to further steps such as masturbation or eventual sexual immorality.
17. (a) Why is it necessary to impale the flesh together with its passions? (b) How does a Christian do this?
17 Because wrong desires are pleasurable to our imperfect flesh, they are not easily dismissed. “Those who belong to Christ Jesus impaled the flesh together with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:24) Impalement was a harsh, painful execution. So take harsh measures with yourself to deaden or “kill” such improper desires—right at the start before they become entrenched. If a TV program begins to excite sexual passion, then turn it off or switch to another program at once. Be circumspect as to movies that you watch or literature that you read. Guard your conversation and how you look upon those of the opposite sex.—Matthew 5:28-30; Colossians 3:5.
18. What have some single Christians done to deaden improper sexual desires, and with what result?
18 When it is time for personal or congregational Bible study, do we resist any urge to neglect these? One Christian, in an effort to impale impure passions when these emotions were especially strong, forced himself to get up out of bed at night and read out loud from the Bible and orally summarize each paragraph until such urges subsided. Christians have at times compelled themselves to pray fervently to Jehovah for help right there and then. As long as a Christian is sincerely striving to impale “sexual appetite” it is unlikely that he will progress to fornication.—Hebrews 4:16.
The original Greek word translated “decision,” krino, means “to judge, to pronounce an opinion.” The word is used at John 7:51 where Nicodemus says that before a person is judged, it is necessary to listen to evidence. This would take time.
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TO REMAIN SETTLED AT HEART
1. Extend yourself spiritually for others
2. Draw power from above when problems abound
3. Resist improper desires at once