I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. (1 Corinthians 7:32-34)
I’ve heard many Christian brothers and sisters who were single Christians before being married say that marriage is a different ball game. Christian brothers and sisters who’ve been married for some time often reflect back to the reality of 1 Corinthians 7:32-34 in their marriage and Christian walk. I’ve heard them say that before they were married they were “sold out” for the Lord. I’ve been married for almost 6 years, and I too can remember when I was “sold out” for the Lord. So what does that mean? Is the Holy Spirit no longer working through my wife and I or other married couples because we are no longer “anxious about the things of the Lord” like our single brothers and sisters? Of course that isn’t true.
The Holy Spirit is always working in all believers, married and single. For the married believer, it's true, we're “anxious about worldly things, how to please our spouses.” Is it an ungodly thing? Not at all. Married couples interest are divided, but the ministry of the Holy Spirit is the same, to “glorify Christ.” Where the single Christian may be free to minister for the Lord in a certain way without pursuing someone who is one with them, they are able to seek the Lord with clarity without being one with another person. The married Christian is also able to seek the Lord, but the ministry applies to the home first. In doing so, he or she is not dishonoring the Lord.
Being that his or her interests are divided, they must honor the Lord by honoring their spouse. Same desire, to please the Lord, it just looks and “feels” a little different from the single Christian. God gives us commands on how to love our wives (men) or respect our husbands (women). He gives us these commands because the Holy Spirit continues His ministry also in married Christians. The married Christian is one with another person, and the single Christian has his or herself in Christ. The married Christian is called daily to work out the ministry of marriage by the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s an up close and personal, face to face, grace-giving and receiving ministry.
In the process, God calls the husband and wife to look to and receive the gospel every step of the way. The single Christian may receive and give the gospel freely on the "mountaintop" of their ministry. While daily pursuing the "mountaintop" of their ministry, the married Christian has someone to receive and give the gospel to, day in and day out, as one. The married ministry speaks for itself, and the Holy Spirit is at work in both individuals who are one in Christ. Jesus is their prize and their hope, and the Holy Spirit makes sure that they both remember that truth through day to day living and application.
As a husband, I must remember edifying truths like this:
"Our ministry to our wives is not about dictation, it's not about reducing our wives to secretaries, it's not about, "I'm the leader in the home, so woman, bring me a cold one!" That's not what we're talking about. That Christian leadership, whether you're talking about leadership in the church, or leadership in your home, that leadership that models Christ is service. It's an interesting thing, even as we're called to be the head, we're called to be at our wives feet. Even as we're called to lead, we're called to serve. There's to be a cherishing, there's to be a teaching her the Word. Washing her in the water of the Word. In a very real sense, our wives should be far more beautiful on the day of their deaths than they will on the day of their marriages. They are to be far more radiant in Christ likeness than the day we began to court and to marry them.”
Marriage is meant to display Christ and His love for the church. Also, we must remember, singleness is not a second class position for the believer. All who are in Christ are the Bride of Christ; we are joint heirs with Christ. The Holy Spirit works in powerful ways in both situations. He empowers us to be faithful through it all to the glory of Christ. He is with all of God’s people to make us look more like Christ, in our homes as one unit and in our singleness.