Friday, 1 August 2014
I suppose therefore that this is good because of the present distress—that it is good for a man to remain as he is:1 Corinthians 7:26
A portion of the words in today’s verse are probably either a direct quote from the letter he had received (verse 7:1), or are the same basic substance of what was asked. There was obviously a “present distress” which afflicted those in Corinth. Possibly the entire population, or Christians in general, were affected by this distress which might have made getting married a difficult proposition at that time. Some believe it was a time of general famine and deprivation (see Acts 11:28). Others believe it was from the persecution of Christians by Nero which was coming around that time. Whatever is being spoken of, they had probably asked Paul, “Don’t you think that it is good, because of the present distress, for a man to remain as he is?”
His response then would follow their words – “Yes, I suppose therefore…” Having said this, there is nothing to suggest that this was anything other than a temporary arrangement and not the standard for all times. In other words, Paul is not promoting monasticism. Were there a massive famine in the world today, his words would still ring true. Why would someone want to get involved in a marriage, which is a time of expected happiness and family growth, when neither of those could be expected because of the difficult circumstances? Should things get worse, only sadness and death would result. This isn’t what one would expect for a marriage!
Likewise, if it were a time of war or major persecution, would it be wise to get married and spend those moments of life together fleeing, hiding, and possibly dying? No. Rather it is better to get through such a major calamity without the additional burdens and heartaches which may come from a marriage.
Having noted this, the next few verses will show that even if staying single is a wise choice during such a time of deprivation or hardship, remaining married is expected for those who are already married. Paul is covering each contingency in order and ensuring that proper biblical and Christ-honoring standards will be upheld at all times.
Life application: The context of life around us is an important guide in making big decisions about the future. Would it be wise to invest in a construction company when the housing market had collapsed? Would it be wise to buy land for a farm during a cycle of severe famine? Likewise, is it wise to consider getting married in a time when one cannot provide for a spouse and family those things that they need to remain healthy and content? Just as ensuring proper context when reading the Bible is necessary, so is considering context when evaluating the world in which we live concerning major decisions about the future.
Most gracious heavenly Father, I would ask that You direct my steps according to Your infinite knowledge. I cannot see the future before it unfolds, but You can. And so, should there be obstacles or hindrances to a sound walk with You and a content life for me in the time ahead, grant me the ability to make decisions now which will allow me to honor You through them. Guide me for the sake of Your glory and honor. Amen.