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Sunday, October 24, 2021

Free from Anxiety

In 1 Corinthians Paul famously addresses the married (1 Cor 7:1-15) with some controversial stuff, so, many of us miss his comments to the single (1 Cor 7:25-40). In particular, he gets a little odd there:
This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away. (1 Cor 7:29-31)
Okay, let's see ... "Let those who have wives live as though they had none ..." Umm, right. Paul, is this kind of like "the sound of one hand clapping or something? What is he talking about here?

The topic is "If you're married, stay that way; if not, stay that way." (1 Cor 7:27-28) Why? Because "the appointed time has grown very short." Right. Wait, what? "The present form of this world is passing away." Oh, okay. So how do we make sense of this?

Paul already made it clear that husbands and wives had responsibilities to each other (1 Cor 7:3-5). He's not saying, "Cease your relationships." What, then? He's saying that this world system is on its way out. He's saying that it's on its way out soon. In fact, it is an unavoidable reality that we are closer than ever to Christ's return. "In light of this," Paul is saying, "live for eternity." How? Don't be so attached to the things of this world. Don't make your spouse your sole focus. Don't make your emotional journey your primary concern. Don't live for "stuff" ("those who buy"). Don't live for pleasure ("use the world"). "All this," Paul is saying, "is temporary." It's a vapor, a mere moment in time. In view of eternity, it's a blip. "And," he says, "it will be trouble." (1 Cor 7:28).

Paul says, "I want you to be free from anxieties." (1 Cor 7:32). How? Don't be so tied to this world. Don't make this world your home. We're just, as Peter puts it, "sojourners and exiles." (1 Peter 2:11). We're just passing through. Look, you know us. You know how we are. We get wrapped up in our surroundings. What will we eat? What will we wear? What will we do? Paul says to let it go. Yes, love your spouse, weep and rejoice, buy, and even enjoy what God gives us to enjoy in the world, but don't get caught up with it. Like he said previously, "All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything." (1 Cor 6:12). Do those things, but do them in a helpful way and not under their control. Live for Jesus.

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