Life in a Crisis
Lord, thank You for allowing me to live in the marital state in which I choose.
Read 1 CORINTHIANS 7:25–40
25 Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. 26 Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for a man to remain as he is. 27 Are you pledged to a woman? Do not seek to be released. Are you free from such a commitment? Do not look for a wife. 28 But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.
29 What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; 30 those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; 31 those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.
32 I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. 33 But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— 34 and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. 35 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.
36 If anyone is worried that he might not be acting honorably toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if his passions are too strong and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married. 37 But the man who has settled the matter in his own mind, who is under no compulsion but has control over his own will, and who has made up his mind not to marry the virgin—this man also does the right thing. 38 So then, he who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry her does better.
39 A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord. 40 In my judgment, she is happier if she stays as she is—and I think that I too have the Spirit of God.
New International Version (NIV)
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How amazing are the deeds of our God! Everything he does reveals his glory and majesty. His righteousness and justice never fail; he is gracious and compassionate to all.
At around the time that Paul left Corinth, ca. A.D. 51, supplies of grain were running out throughout much of the Greek world. The Romans had assumed that the system would always care for them. Suddenly there was a real possibility that it might not. Similarly, in our day people have saved up, contributing to pension funds only to find that, when needed, their investments have lost their value and are virtually useless. This grain crisis may have been the referent of the “present crisis” of verse 26—and it had taken a toll on people’s marriages. This was also true of the people engaged to marry and the parents who were going to give away their daughters in marriage. Paul looks beyond the immediate financial and marriage crisis and points to the final crisis that will precede the second coming of the Lord (29; 1 Cor. 4:5). He encourages the Corinthians to have an end-times vision.
Are we really living with the return of the Lord in mind? We are called to be ready for that great event, as if living on a war footing. In times of mobilization for war, people’s priorities change. Paul’s advice to the saints in Corinth still applies to us: “[Let] those who buy something, [live] as if it were not theirs to keep… For this world in its present form is passing away” (30,31). This passage should not lead us to believe that Paul is against marriage (Eph. 5:22–33). Other passages show the opposite. If Christians are to live expectantly, then some may choose singleness as an expression of their desire to serve Christ, but that does not negate the right of others to marry. Whether married or single, we should always seek first to do God’s will.
Pray about the ways your life and priorities would need to change if you were living on a war footing today. Ask God for the grace to make those changes.
Lord, never allow me to lose sight of Your imminent return, at which point You will evaluate us all before Your throne.