Sunday, 13 July 2014
For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that. 1 Corinthians 7:7
Paul’s words here are debated, not because they are difficult to understand, but because of presuppositions in those who read what he has penned. This is true with much of the Bible. What we already believe will affect what we read and assimilate. It is difficult, but not impossible, to set our presuppositions aside, but it is always the right course to take.
He begins with, “For I wish that all men were even as I myself.” This is the disputed portion of the verse. Paul was unmarried as we can glean from 1 Corinthians 7:8. Because of this, those who prefer the single, celibate life will naturally tend to infer that he means that he “wished all were unmarried as he was.” This however is not what Paul means. He is speaking of his ability to control his sexual desires, even in his unmarried state. He wished that all had the same control as he did.
This is obviously the correct rendering for several reasons. First, marriage is a God-instituted rite and was given to man for the very reason of having a partner that man could join with. Secondly, if all were celibate as he was, there would have been one generation of Christians and then the faith would have ended. And thirdly, he has already given instructions to both the married and the unmarried and they deal with proper handling of sex, not just abstinence, as the main issue.
Instead of improperly engaging in sexual activity, he finishes this thought with, “But each has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that.” In other words, some have the gift of remaining unmarried and not being tempted in their celibacy. Others have the desire and urge to engage in a relationship and so God has given them the right to such a relationship in marriage. Thus, even these words, “one in this manner and one in that,” demonstrate that he is not saying that he wished all remained unmarried, “but that every one had the same grace of continence which he himself was endowed with.” (CJ Ellicott).
Life application: Whether we decide to remain unmarried or to marry, we are to abstain from sexual immorality in the state we are in. God has ordained that sex be confined to a man and a woman who are married to one another.
Though many trials and temptations may come my way
I pray for strength to remain faithful to You, O God
Grant me the ability to turn and walk away
From any form of sin which lies ahead on the path I trod
Oh, that I would be faithful to Your word!
And that I would never displease You with the life I live
Help me to bring honor and glory to You my Lord
In this one life which to me You did give
Thank You for Your kind hand of grace upon me
And thank You for looking after Your other children, all of us
I know that it is a gift which is granted for all eternity
And it came through the precious shed blood of Jesus
Lord, You have given each of us gifts, abilities, and strengths. But we also have failings and weaknesses. Help us to use the positives to overcome the weaknesses so that we can be pleasing to You with each moment that we breathe and each step that we take. When we fall short, help us to get up, shake off the dust, and continue down the right path which leads to pleasing You. Amen.