Thursday, September 06, 2018

2018.09.06 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1Corinthians 7:17-35

Questions for Littles: Who has distributed to each of us our situation (v17)? What is one thing that we do not need to change (v18)? What is it that actually matters (v19)? How should we consider our current circumstances (v20)? What is another thing that we do not need to change (v21)? What two, opposite things are we at the very same time, in Christ (v22)? But what, especially, should we NOT become (v23)? About what does the apostle not have a direct quote from Jesus (v25)? Because of what, at that time, was it good for a man to remain single (v26)? But what should married men, still at that time, not have sought (v27)? During such times, what would marrying bring (v28)? What kinds of things are not as important as serving the Lord as well as possible in the present form of this world (v29-31)? And, yet, what must a married man place as his top priority in the Lord’s service (v32-33)? What must a married woman place as her top priority in the Lord’s service (v34)? Again, what is the main point of the apostle’s instructions in this section (v35)?
In this week’s Epistle reading, we receive a pretty big corrective to one of the lies that we tell ourselves: “If only I change [this] or [that] thing in my circumstances, then I’ll really be set up to serve the Lord properly.”

The problem with that kind of thinking is that it secretly blames God for our current poor service, because our circumstances themselves are a calling from God in which to serve. Circumcision, uncircumcision, slave, free—callings from God. That is to say: our cultural and place in society is a calling from God, and our economic status is a calling from God.

Now, we shouldn’t seek to place ourselves under any more obligation than necessary to others, lest we intentionally limit ourselves from certain avenues of service to the Lord (v23). But our intentionally doing something is quite different from God having providentially done it (v24)!

Still, there is wisdom to be exercised in each particular circumstance. According to v26, the Corinthians were going through some significant distress—one in which it would not be wise to try to start a family.

And there is wisdom to be exercised in every circumstance on this side of glory—recognizing that this life is our last chance to serve the Lord before the eternal age arrives. Therefore, let us see every temporary thing (yes, even marriage, cf. Mat 22:30!) not as an end in itself, but as an occasion in which we are to serve the Lord—marriage, grief, and possessions are all occasions for serving the eternal God in a temporary world (v29-31)!

Therefore, the reasoning of the rest of the chapter is that there are certain avenues of service that are open to the unmarried, but in which the married would be very limited. The husband’s first place of service is his wife, and the wife’s first place of service is her husband (v33-34).
What are your circumstances? What would it mean for you to serve the Lord in them? What distractions have you added that are getting in the way of more service?
Suggested songs: ARP128 “How Blessed Are All Who Fear” or TPH538 “Take My Life, and Let It Be”

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