Sunday, 10 August 2014
And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction. 1 Corinthians 7:35
Paul’s words, “And this I say” is referring to the instructions on marriage that he has given from verses 25-34. In this, his words were “for your own profit.” Explained differently, what he has said is advice which is meant to help those in Corinth and to assist them in their thinking about the issue. Remember, in verse 26, he wrote of the “present distress” which they were facing. As a person who understood the complexities of the times and was able to process them in a valid Christian context, his words were intended as general guides for a sound life through that distress.
This is certain that the words are only recommendations and not directives because he next says that it was “not that I may put a leash on you.” The word translated as “leash” is the Greek brochon. This is its only use in Scripture and it implies a noose, snare, or cord which is used to restrain something or someone. The gist of his words then are that he was not intending to bind them with a man-made rule and thus add to the gospel of freedom which is found in Christ, nor to bind them from anything lawful within the society which didn’t contradict the gospel, but rather his intent was to provide sound, helpful, and fatherly advice for their welfare.
In contrast to such an over-reaching command, Paul simply wanted them to consider “what is proper” in order that “you may serve the Lord without distraction.” His intent then was solely for their good during the “present distress” and his words are not to be considered directives for any time at any point of the church age. Rather, in times of upheaval and distress, believers should be able to go to Paul’s words and determine a sound course of action that will keep them from trials and heartache, and yet able to serve the Lord fully and without additional burdens which could take away that full devotion.
Life application: Again we see the importance of context. Reading a single verse and applying it without context inevitably leads to crummy doctrine. But by checking the context of what is given, we can be certain that we are on the right path in our walk and in good stead with the Lord.
Lord God, I am so thankful to You for the guidance Your word gives. There are proverbs of wisdom which provide a general guide for our daily walk. There are words of exhortation to build me up and keep me thinking correctly. There are commands which if followed will ensure that I am right with You and in Your favor. And there are psalms of praise which show me how I too can express my own personal feelings to You in a way which is pleasing. These and so many other aspects of Your word fill me with wonder, delight, and surety that I am walking correctly in Your presence. Thank You for Your word! Amen.