1 Corinthians 7:25-40 – Single or Married?

Read 1 Corinthians 7:25-40

Today’s reading confirms for me that Paul is not married.  I do believe I have read that in commentaries as well.  It sounds like he sees marriage, while not sinful, as a proverbial “noose” and if married you are limited in your freedoms, particularly your freedom to follow God.  If he is married, and because he is such a soldier for God, he feels like he is doing his wife an injustice, and therefore that is why he says it is better not to marry.

If married, you can be too focused on your spouse’s needs, etc., that you are not “all in” for God.  Paul states several times that it is not a sin to be married or get married. In fact, there are other places in the Bible where marriage is explained as holy.  This whole section starts by him giving the disclaimer that he does not have the word from God, but it is for unmarried women.  His dialogue quickly changes to involve more.  

I’d like to think that the main point here is not to focus on the world or things of the world, for they too quickly pass away (v. 31).  That we need to focus on doing the work of the Lord the best we know how, and if that focus is limited by a marriage partner, that is the problem.  We should not only unite with someone we love, but one who shares our love of the Savior and our devotion to serve Him and do His work.  Together, working for God, the team is stronger than an individual on their own, that would be my thinking anyway.  

So much of the preceding verses here in this chapter have cautioned against marriage, separation, being with non-believers, etc.  It makes sense to me that if yoked with another believer wanting to focus on doing the work of the Lord, that that is a strong yoke, and that is what we should be seeking.  So if we want to be married, we need to seek a Godly man to share our life with.  I did just that…it just took me a do-over to get it done.  

How are you feeling after reading the rest of this chapter?  Feel free to comment below.  Perhaps you are feeling energized and empowered to do a better job as a follower of Christ?  Perhaps a bit dismayed at how you’ve fallen away and into some bad habits?  Perhaps confused and not sure how to balance it all?  Let these verses speak to your heart and ignite some action, whatever that may be.

Let’s pray.  Lord I come to you feeling a little overwhelmed.  While I am married to a man full of integrity and love for you, sometimes I don’t feel like we are doing enough to further your kingdom.  Open up opportunities for us to minister to those around us.  Help us to see with your eyes the needs and help fill them.  Thank you for this servant heart, and I continue to grow closer to you myself, use my life as a testament to others.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

1 Corinthians 7:17-24 – Remain

Read 1 Corinthians 7:17-24

We are to remain.  This excerpt says it THREE times.  We need to live in the situation God has placed us and remain. My question is though, “as you were when God first called you”.  What does that mean exactly?  

I am in a much different place now than when I was first called, and having been a Christian all my life, I’m not sure when that “calling” began. I do have a moment when I cried out to God to use me, to forgive me, and I feel like that a moment of rebirth.  That was in March 1998. I was a single mom then, and I was just getting involved in the church.  If that is when I was “first called,” I have come a long way.  After reading this I now wonder if I’m supposed to go back!  If so, go back to what?  My children are grown, I married a pastor, and we’re retired now.  Able to serve the Lord in a different way.  

The reminder is here…keep God’s commandments.  That’s pretty clear, and God’s word sets these out for us.  I don’t think of them as rules, but on what God wants and expects from me, and as a devoted child I want to follow and yearn to please him.

But I think the main point of today’s reading is PERSEVERE until God moves us on. God is moving in all of us.  We just need to let the spirit move.  Take a moment to reflect on this, “let the spirit move.”  What does that mean for you today?  This month?  This year?

Let’s pray.  Father, thank you for the opportunities you have opened.  Help us to follow your commands, and may our behavior be honoring to you at all times.  Fill us with your spirit and move in us, reveal your perfect plan and give us the strength to live in it.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

1 Corinthians 7:1-16 – Marriage

Read 1 Corinthians 7:1-16

This passage is one that I struggle with, so I pray through it and trust God. That’s pretty much a good plan any time we are faced with a struggle, whether it be understanding scripture or in dealing with life’s ups and downs.  I’m certain I’m not alone, especially for those who may be in an unhappy marriage or for those whose marriages have ended in divorce, like my first go.  And from the study I’ve done, Paul’s words have been widely misunderstood in the history of the church with tragic consequences.

Suffice it to say, that in a healthy marriage, each spouse she gladly give authority to the other in terms of their bodies.  It is a joy and a privilege to do so and share so deeply when there is love.  That marriage bond between couples should extend outside the bedroom as well so as to serve God together.  So long as God is the center of the marriage relationship, keeping his will first and foremost, the thought of separation should never ever come up.

Unfortunately, my first experience was not a healthy relationship, and I still struggle with the word from God in verses 10 and 11.  Despite many attempts to work through our dysfunction, my first marriage did end in divorce. For safety reasons, among other things, I felt it best to remove myself and the children.  Looking back and remembering the peace I felt with that decision, I truly wrestle with knowing was God for me or against me in that moment?  And then I remarried!  Now where do I stand? Again, my dear husband is the love of my life, he cherishes me, and we walk hand and hand in God’s will, seeking each day to be a shining light to unbelievers.  I truly feel God has led me to this place and used the struggles of my past to make me the strong woman I am today.

Enough about the personal walk down memory lane – but I wanted to share that for those who may be struggling with this verse and encourage you to wrestle it out with God, seeking forgiveness and clarity.

Also helpful is that Paul was writing this to the Corinthians, and their views on sex were quite a bit different than today.  Well maybe, maybe not.  The Corinthian society as a whole would follow the mantra, “If it feels good, do it.” So, there was a lot of sexual promiscuity going on (that part is much like today – sex has been infiltrating media, TV, movies, etc. for years).  But also, as I understand it, even married couples in Corinth were tempted to refrain from sex by some who were teaching that celibacy was a more holy lifestyle and a means of religious power.  In addition, sex was not special anymore because of all the exploitation.  Short term abstinence, in marriage, is okay so long as it is by agreement.  All important decisions should be made by agreement.  Don’t you think?

So what are your thoughts on this passage?  Please share any insights you have in the comments below.

Let’s pray.  Father, thank you for your word.  Help us to discern the message you have for us today. Forgive me for times when I doubt myself and the paths I have walked.  Fill me anew with your spirit to be ready to shine for you today.

 

1 Corinthians 6:12-21 – Our Bodies

Read 1 Corinthians 6:12-21

More focus on sexual sin.  Not a good sin…but no sin is good, but this one seems to be particularly bad.  This passage gives a helpful explanation however.

If we realize that we belong to God, and that our bodies are God’s temple, then it makes sense that if that same body, joined with God, does something sinful, that is definitely NOT a good thing.  It almost seems like it should be impossible, just as it was true that Jesus did not sin, then so the Holy Spirit, living in us should not sin.  That’s it, the Holy Spirit in us cannot sin, it is us and our free will that causes sin,  we can’t help ourselves.  There is the rub, and you might call is conscience.

So why set apart sexual sin?  We are connected to our bodies 24/7, and if we do some other sin, that same Holy Spirit is right there with us.  So again, I ask, why is so much focus on sexual sin?  I suppose it’s that “oneness” that happens when the flesh connects, and other sin isn’t so intimate and connecting.  Our bodies belong to God, and we should honor him with how we use them and care for them.

So are you using your body to glorify God?  In what ways may you be falling short in preserving it and keeping it holy?  After all, the body matters, and to misuse it is like holding the creator in contempt.  I don’t think I’ve ever thought of it quite so intensely, but isn’t that true?

Have you ever made something you found special, like a piece of art or clothing, only to have it trampled on, spilled on, torn apart, etc.?  How did you feel when your work went to waste?  I remember cleaning the house every Saturday morning and everything would be just right, everything in its own place, no dust, no grime, and then the kids would get up from their naps.  Chaos again.  I wondered more times than I can count why I had even gone to the trouble of cleaning!  What if God felt that way about us when we didn’t take care of ourselves?

Let’s pray.  Holy Father thank you for the body you’ve given me.  While I haven’t always taken good care and been mindful of you living in me, forgive me.  Help me to remember WHO I belong to and cherish that truth. Guide me in my relationships so that I can honor you and help others to do the same.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

1 Corinthians 6:1-11 – Handling Disputes

Read 1 Corinthians 6:1-11

As someone that has worked in the legal field for many years, these verses really struck a chord with me.  There are so many frivolous lawsuits to be sure, yet there are many that are filed because of simple injustice and unfairness.  Paul is again calling the church to be the church.

Recently, I enjoyed devotions from Rick Warren which focused on sin and the brokenness of our world because of sin.  In this vein, he would say that injustice is going to happen because of sin, and we can’t fix that because we can’t stop people from sinning.  Does that mean that the court system should not exist?  And, if Christians have a beef with other Christians, those “beefs” should not go to court, if it does exist, but instead seek judgment from other believers?  

As an aside, the court system in Corinth, at the time Paul was writing this to the church, was led by judges who were not necessarily believers. Rulings and findings would often go to the one with the highest place in society, not necessarily the “right” choice.  Believers were putting their “dirty laundry” out for all to see publicly, while it could have been handled more discreetly “within the family of God”. Legal disputes were seen to betray and jeopardize the solidarity of community in Christ.

So what does this look like for us today?  It seems to be saying we need to bring the church back into the mix and let elders and leaders of the church decide our disputes (like in Moses’ day, and the span of time of the “JUDGES”). The church has enough on it’s plate, inner struggles and such, is this the proper venue? Or perhaps the wisdom of verse 7 should speak to us and we should just “accept” the injustice. Let it go.  Forget about it.  Get on with our lives.  After all, trials are messy, drag on forever, and many times the resolution is less than ideal or satisfying.  Not to mention the financial strain.  But accepting, turning the other cheek? That can be hard, but many people do it.  Maybe that’s what’s right?  What are your thoughts on this?

There is justice, after all, in heaven, and how startling are verse 9 and 10, that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom.  We can probably see ourselves in that list of wrongdoers, but we have the chance, if we are cleansed and made right with God by calling on the name of Jesus.  How many people need to hear this?

I don’t work in the trial arena anymore, but my years in the legal field were rewarding in the sense that we helped many people.  My favorite areas of law were workers’ compensation where we helped the injured worker through a tough time in their lives, and the estate work, where we helped grieving families walk through the legalities of closing the estate of a loved one. While there is a lot of injustice in this world and crazy lawsuits filling up the court dockets, there are believers in the ranks of lawyers and judges, just as Paul would have hoped.  

How did this passage speak to you?  What are your takeaways?

Let’s pray.  Lord, your world is broken and I grieve with you.  Your mighty power and wisdom is available for us all, help us to ask for it.  Help us to follow your plan for us no matter where it leads.   Help us to focus on you and your will and set aside the issues the world puts before us.  Help us to be strong and faithful.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.