32 I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. 33 But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, 34 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. (ESV)
1 Corinthians 7:32-34
Time Is Short. Eternity Is Near. (Part 2)
There is much in life that tempts you to be anxious. But God calls us not to be anxious, and only in Him is that possible.
Previously (v26-31), Paul encouraged a life undistracted by the joys and pains of the world, because time is short and the current world system is passing away. Now, he says, live this out free from anxiety. What an encouraging invitation! Would anyone not want to be free from anxieties?
Would anyone not want to be free from anxieties?
He holds up for comparison the unmarried man and woman, who are concerned for the Lord’s affairs, and the married man and woman, who are concerned for pleasing their spouse. The married man, wanting to please his spouse, has divided interests. The single person is concerned for one thing.
Freedom from anxieties, it seems, does not mean we drift along without any concerns. The comparison indicates that true freedom means we are concerned for the Lord’s interests primarily. Anxiety for the Lord’s affairs, for pleasing the Lord, brings freedom (Matt 11:28-30), and this is how Paul would have us live.
Is Paul saying that a married person can’t have such devotion to the Lord? I don’t think so; v35 indicates that Paul wants a life of undivided devotion to the Lord for everyone. Paul acknowledges the married person’s responsibilities (v33b, v34e) to their spouse, and argues that when properly fulfilled, those responsibilities are not incompatible with a life devoted to the Lord. Freedom comes in part, it seems, by keeping the marriage in proper perspective, by understanding that it is temporary and secondary (v31, Lk 14:26).
(This was originally posted on the Biblearc blog by Robert Elphick on November 13, 2014.)
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