I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord. (ESV)
1 Corinthians 7:35
Time Is Short. Eternity Is Near. (Part 3)
This is a well ordered life: that which has God as it’s center, so that all other things fall into place.
Having given this instruction (1 Cor 7:26-34), Paul assures the Corinthians that his words are for their good, to lead them towards properly ordered lives (v35d).
Some may have interpreted Paul’s words (e.g. encouraging singleness) as an unwelcome restraint. He assures them this is not his intent. No, he is helping them, assisting them, giving them information for their advantage in life! (A genuine life-coach, with advice not to be ignored!) He is trying to help them understand how to properly order their lives. Rather than restricting them from certain activities, Paul is guiding them, that in whatever they do, they should not be distracted from the coming eternity (v29-31). He wants them to be ready (unlike the many who will not be, Mt 24:38-39). He wants them to live free from earthly worries (v32-34), with undivided devotion to the Lord (35e, cf. Col 3:23).
Paul has seen (or soon will see) co-workers de-railed by a love for the world (2 Tim 4:10) and money (1 Tim 6:10). Brothers, listen, the world and all of it’s trinkets are passing away (v31)! Paul also seems to understand the intense stress that marriage can bring (v28). Maybe his advice for the married – to take their eyes off each another (v29) and fix them on the Lord (v35) – is intended to address some observed pitfalls. With a foundation of devotion to the Lord in place (and consistently renewed), they can then seek to please one another (v33,34).
So the exhortation is clear: with eternity drawing near, and the world as we know it passing, Paul would have us devoted to the Lord without distraction. This is a well ordered life.
(This was originally posted on the Biblearc blog by Robert Elphick on November 26, 2014.)