Archive for November, 2011
I wanted to send out a quick post just to say I will not be writing any posts this week.
I am preparing for a very important retreat I have been asked to speak at. It’s all about leadership. Some would say I have no right speaking about leadership because I don’t know anything about it, and I definitely don’t have the gift or abilities to lead. Others would say it’s not about skill, but heart, passion and integrity, which I have an abundance of.
As I have been preparing for this retreat I have found you need a little bit of both but even more important, especially for Christian leadership, you need the Holy Spirit. So thankfully even if I don’t have the skill but maybe lots of heart, I do have the Holy Spirit to guide me as I prepare and then as I teach this weekend.
Please pray for me as I prepare and lead this weekend.
I Corinthians 7:29-35: Divided commitment
After reading this section I don’t believe it is so much about Paul’s council regarding marriage as it is about him being concerned that the believers at Corinth not be divided in their commitment and worship to God.
v.29-31, Paul starts out this passage with “the time that remains is very short” again like yesterday, I believe Paul is talking about impending persecution coming which will lead to less chances to tell their friends about their faith and the Gospel. So he tells “husbands should not let marriage be their major concern” and “happiness or sadness or wealth should not keep anyone from doing God’s work.” In other words, Paul is saying that the believers at Corinth should not let anything get in the way of serving the Lord. Even marriage, home, or financial security. These things should not be their ultimate goals in life. They should live unhindered by the cares of this world, anything that would keep them from doing God’s work. Paul continues his thought to tell “those in frequent contact with the things of the world should make good use of them without becoming attached to them” To say, that it’s okay to have material things as long as they are used to further God’s Kingdom. All of their possessions first of all belong to the Lord, second they are temporary…they will “pass away” and Paul didn’t want them to become attached to anything in this life.
v.32-34, Paul continues his point speaking now about marriage “an unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please him” and an unmarried “woman who is no longer married or has never been married can be more devoted to the Lord in body and in spirit.” But a married man or woman, their “interests are divided.” The husband has to “think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife” just as the wife has to be also “concerned about her earthly responsibilities and how to please her husband.”
For those of you concerned that Paul was against marriage, later in our study you will see how important he believes the privilege of marriage is (9:3-5).
v.35, Paul gives the advice in these previous verses for their “benefit” and not “place restrictions” on them. These words were not regulations or rules the believers had to follow, no, they were advice to help the believers to “serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.” This would also help them as they lived in the most immoral place on the earth–Corinth and as they anticipated persecution from the Roman government.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO ME? There are two things I think this passage is about for me: 1. to not let anything get in the way of serving God. There is nothing wrong with being married or having other interests other than our faith, but not to let those things be our ultimate goals in life. 2. especially my possession are not ultimately mine, they are God loaned to me while here on earth. I need to be willing to let them all go and to let others use them as long as they are used to do God’s work.
WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT? My possessions need to be dedicated to God so that whatever I have is his to use. That means that if someone needs to use my car to loan it to them (of course only if my insurance policy allows it and they are trustworthy). My home is God’s so starting in January I am going to open my home to a men’s small group. Everything I have is God so I need to give them back to him in an act of worship–including my family.
I Corinthians 7:25-28: Questions about singles
Throughout this chapter, Paul has been telling the believers at Corinth to not change their situations but to serve the Lord where they are. Paul wanted the believers to focus on sharing their faith so that many would become believers before Christ’s return. In these few verses Paul answers some questions people had about being single. As always he didn’t want anything to hinder their work of the advancement of God’s Kingdom.
v.25, At this point in Paul’s letter he decides to answer a question the Corinthian church had asked him about “young women who are not yet married”, probably in a letter he was sent.
In the culture then, a young woman’s parents usually would make decisions about whether or not their daughter(s) would get married.
As Paul writes to answer this question he specifically says “I do not have a command from the Lord for them” which means he didn’t have a direct teaching from Jesus to draw from. However this doesn’t mean that Paul’s words should be taken less inspired then the rest of this letter. Paul was giving advice because “the Lord and his mercy has given [him] wisdom that can be trusted.”
v.26, Paul advises that the young women should “remain as [they] are” which is unmarried. The reason was that it would be easier on them to be single during the “present crisis” I believe the present crisis was not so much the 2nd coming of Jesus (some scholars believe this) but more so the impending persecution that the Roman government would soon bring on the Christians.
v.27, Now Paul expands his advice to everyone and says “if you have a wife, do not seek to end the marriage. If you do not have a wife, do not seek to get married” which is to say don’t seek to divorce if you are married but don’t get married if you are not married. But why? Paul’s reasoning again was what he said in v.26, it would be difficult to be a Christian in the Roman empire’s coming persecution, so wherever you are stay focused on the Lord and sharing the Gospel and not on your personal life.
v.28, Paul doesn’t want to be misunderstood so he goes on to say “if you do get married, it is NOT a sin.” Same for young women if they get married it is not a sin. He doesn’t want those reading his letter to think it was sinful to get married, this would be inconsistent with all the other Scriptures. Paul was simply trying to “spare [them] those problems” and “trouble” that come with marriage. We all know that people who are single have just as many problems, so Paul is not saying only married people have all the problems, or more problems, no he was talking again about the impending persecution and he wanted all the believers at Corinth to be able to let go of everything in their faithfulness to God–it would be much easier without the attachment of marriage, so he advised those who were not yet married to stay that way, but if they chose to get married it was not a sin or wrong.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO ME? I think this is Paul again making us realize that we need to stay where God has us, not just married or unmarried (but other lots in life) and focus all our energy on serving him wherever we are. So it comes back to being content where I am but more importantly focussing my energy and time on serving God and telling others about Christ.
WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT? I need to pray for my unsaved friends, in the meantime continue to serve God where he has me, but pray for opportunities where God opens doors for me to share the Gospel with my unsaved friends and family.
I Corinthians 7:20-24: Be content where you are – part 2
Even though it seems like Paul is leaving the conversation of marriage in these few verses (up to v.24), the truth is he is highlighting the importance of living in peace or be content wherever God has you, especially in marriage. This is part 2 of this topic.
v.20, Paul repeats what he says in v.17 for emphasis and because it is his rule for all churches he has planted“Each of you should remain as you were when God called you.” This statement is speaking to believers referring to examples such as marriage, job, station in life (slave or free) and even whether they are circumcised or not. It does NOT refer to the spiritual or inward life that should always be growing and maturing as believers learn more about God and grow closer to him.
v.21, The church at Corinth had people from different stations in life, even slaves. So Paul wanted to let everyone know (even slaves) that wherever they are stationed in life they can stay there as a new believer. They need now to do whatever they do as if they were doing it for the Lord (Ephesians 6:5-9). “Don’t let that worry you…” The slaves should not feel that because they are now Christians they can no longer serve as a slave because they deserve freedom. Unfortunately they might have to keep on living as slaves, but they should do so wholeheartedly as if they were serving Jesus himself. But Paul does also say if they have “a chance to be free, take it” so they had a chance to better themselves and no longer be a slave, then they should take it. Obedience to God is what matters most.
v.22-23, Obviously slavery was very common throughout the Roman Empire, so many of the new believers in the church in Corinth were “slave when the Lord called [them].” Paul wants them to know even though they are slaves to humans, they are “now free in the Lord.” Free from the awful power of sin in their lives. Also in the same way if they “were free when the Lord called [them], [they] are now slave[s] of Christ.” The people who were free, had become slaves (or servants) of Jesus who “paid a high price” for them, higher than any rich person could ever pay for a slave, he paid with his blood! Even though it says “slaves” of Christ Paul is not speaking of the slaves that you and I know of from past history. He is letting us all know that when Jesus paid the high price we gained freedom, our obedience and service is to Christ only, not men, the world or anyone. Because all Christians are now slaves (or servants) of God, they should no longer “be enslaved by the world.” They should live in the world, but not be of it.
v.24, Paul reminds that believers at Corinth again of what he said in v.17 & 20: “remain as you were when God first called you.” Because all believers have been set free from sin and are free to live for god, they ought not to feel pride or shame in whatever station they are in life. Instead they should serve in that position as if they were serving God himself.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO ME? Obviously I am not a slave and if I were to look at these verses from only that point of view I would be missing the point. I think Paul is trying to tell me that wherever I am in life, my station, my position, my job, my lot in life I should be first content, but second do all to the glory of God. Serve and live in a way that I was doing it all for God, as if he were my boss, my wife, my kids, etc. And remember that because of Jesus’ sacrifice that paid the price for my sins I am no longer a slave to the world, but now I am a ‘slave’ to God. All my life should be an act of obedience and service to him.
WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT? Remember that God comes first, everything else is second, even my family, ministry, my job, everything else is second. I need to put my priorities in that order. The biggest way I can do this is to take some time each morning to send alone with God, I like to call this have a “date” with God. But not to just say I am going to do, but do it. Or as one my professors used to say in college “do it now!”