I Corinthians 7

 

 

                        The Lawfulness of Marriage and Its Duties (vs. 1-11)

 

Corinth was a city famous, or rather infamous, for its licentiousness; not only was society

corrupt; religion sanctioned and spread the prevalent moral corruption. No place was more

remarkable for the union between splendor and impurity. When a Christian community was

formed at Corinth, it was natural enough that some of the old leaven of sensuality should

appear and threaten to corrupt the mass. Hence the tolerance of fornication and, in one case,

even of adultery and incest in this church.  Apparently, some members of the church had

written Paul about the matter.

 

1  Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not

to touch a woman.  2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his

own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.” – (The question seems to

be “to marry or not to marry?” – CY – 2010)   Paul is saying that neither state, the

wedded or non-wedded, is in itself more holy than the other.  He assumes and

directs that all who marry should live in conjugal union.  Marriage is an institution and a

relationship based upon the command of God – (Genesis 2:24)  The Lord Jesus Christ

gave His blessing at a wedding (John 2:1-11) and repeats and sanctions the original

commandment as to the lawfulness and inviolability of marriage.  (Matthew 19:4-12)

Also, marriage is the chosen analogue of the relation between Christ and His Church

(Ephesians 5:25-33; Revelation 19:6-9.   3 Let the husband render unto the wife due

benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.  4 The wife hath not

power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not

power of his own body, but the wife.  5 Defraud ye not one the other, except it be

with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and

come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.”  In marriage

the sensuous impulse, by being controlled and placed under religious sanctions is refined

and purified from a degradation into a sacrament. Instead of being any longer the source

of untold curses to mankind, it becomes the condition of their continuance and an element in

their peace, because it is then placed under the blessing of God and of his Church.

(Hebrews 13:4; Proverbs 5:15-21)  Marriage is not a capricious union, but a holy bond.

“They two” become “one flesh.”  (Wouldn’t it be great if every marriage could say,

“If two were ever one, then we!” in our sexually oriented society saturated with

sensuality everywhere, believe you me, Satan will “tempt you for your incontinency”

ajkrasi>an, — ak-ras-ee’-an; - want of sel-frestraint: excess, incontinency - CY – 2010) 

6 But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment.”  All that Paul here says

of marriage is in answer to some communication which the Church had addressed to him

On the subject, and what he says he declares is not “of commandment,” that is, not by

Divine authority, but by “permission.”  So desirous did he seem to be that all he says on

this subject should be regarded as coming from himself without any command of God, that

he declares it not only in the sixth verse, but also in the twenty-fifth verse, in which he says,

“I have no commandment of the Lord.”  7 For I would that all men were even as I

myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and

another after that.  8 I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for

them if they abide even as I.  9 But if they cannot contain, let them marry: (compare

I Timothy 5:14) – “for it is better to marry than to burn.”  The original tenses give greater

force and beauty to this obvious rule of Christian common sense and morality. The “marry”

 is in the aorist (past tense) “to marry once for all,” and live in holy married union; the “burn”

is in the present — “to be on fire with concupiscence.” Marriage once for all is better

than continuous lust; the former is permitted, the latter sinful.  10 And unto the married

I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart (by divorce or otherwise)

from her husband:  11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be

reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.”

 

 

                                                ADDITIONAL NOTES (vs. 1-11)

 

 

  • MARRIAGE IS PROMOTIVE OF SOME OF THE BEST AND PUREST

      AFFECTIONS OF HUMAN NATURE IN THOSE WHOM IT UNITES.

      There is no institution which so emphatically strikes at the very root of selfishness.

      The man is weaned away from the too common practice of self gratification; the

      woman has called forth all the latent affection and devotion of her being; and the

      family becomes the sphere of self denial and self sacrifice, of mutual forbearance

      and helpfulness. That such is always the case is not asserted; but such is the proper,

      and to a very large extent the actual, tendency of this institution. True, there are those

            among the unmarried who cherish love which animates them to many labors; but

            there is no room for comparison between the virtues of the married and the

            unmarried, inasmuch as, amongst men, those who shrink from marriage usually

            do so avowedly to escape serious obligations and to indulge unbridled desires.

 

  • MARRIAGE IS THE BEST PRESERVATIVE AGAINST VICE AND THE

      BEST AID TO VIRTUE. Paul seems to have admitted the contention of his

      Corinthian correspondents, that in some cases it was expedient to avoid marriage,

      and that such a course might be admirable in the passionless and peculiarly spiritual.

      But what in modern English is called “common sense” was very strong in the apostle,

      and he gives a very plain reason for a very plain precept. In the presence of the

      voluptuousness of Corinth there could be little need for many words; Paul’s words

      are few and pungent. And whilst human nature is what it is, his counsels will hold

            good, and those of superfine and ascetic moralists will be discredited by the

            facts of human life.

 

  • BY MARRIAGE ARE SECURED THE WELFARE OF SOCIETY

            AND THE PROSPERITY OF THE CHURCH. The family is the true unit

            in human society, and the enemy of marriage is the enemy of humanity.

            It is in the family that virtuous and honorable citizens are bred and reared, and

            there principles are instilled which are at the foundation of national stability.

            And the old saying is equally true, that by marriage heaven itself is replenished.

            It is hence that the Church draws its members and its officers; it is here that the

            natural life and the eternal life are alike commenced and nurtured.

 

 

                        Directions about Mixed Marriages (vs. 12-16)

 

12 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that

believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.

13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased

to dwell with her, let her not leave him.  14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified

(the bond is still holy; its holiness rests in the believing wife or husband) by the wife, and the

unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but

now are they holy.  15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a

sister is not under bondage in such cases: - Our Lord assumes only one cause alone –

unfaithfulness – (Matthew 19:9) – “but God hath called us to peace.” - rather, in

peace. Peace is to be the sphere in which the calling comes, and in which it issues. Milton,

in his ‘Tetrachordon,’ quotes Maimonides to the effect that “divorce was permitted by

Moses to preserve peace in marriage and quiet in the family.” Similarly, a voluntary

separation might be the only possible means of preserving moral peace where the

union was between souls separated from each other by so vast a gulf as those of a

pagan and a Christian.  16 For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save

thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?

 

 

                                    ADDITIONAL NOTES (vs. 12-16)

 

  • MATRIMONIAL LIFE. If two persons have entered into this, of all relationships

      the most solemn, whose temperaments, beliefs, tendencies, tastes, and habits are

      soon found to be so antipathetic as to produce nothing but constant quarrellings

      and mutual miseries, are they to “abide” in that state? If Paul means this, we

      cannot accept his counsel, for such unions are not marriages at all. But he does

      not mean that, for in the fifteenth and other verses of this chapter he seems to

      authorize a separation. “But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother

      or a sister is not under bondage in such cases.” Chain two vessels together on

            the ocean, allowing them to be some yards or even feet apart, and in the storm

            they will soon tear themselves to pieces and go down into the depths. But if you

            so rivet them together that the twain will be one, they will be mutual helps, and

            they will stand the tempest. So in marriage, unless the two souls are so tightly

            riveted or clasped together by the strongest mutual affection, it is better to

            separate. If they are only joined by a chain forged by civil or ecclesiastical law,

            the speedier that chain is snapped asunder the better for both. Philanthropy is

            justified in promoting the divorce of such, and in this age methinks, it will find

            plenty of this merciful work to do.

 

  • EARTHLY RELATIONSHIPS SANCTIFIED TO HEAVENLY USES

            There were several obvious and powerful reasons why a Christian husband

            or wife should not leave a partner who was married in days when both were

            unbelievers, and who had not experienced conversion from heathenism or

            Judaism to Christianity. And to some extent the same reasons hold good when

            one has passed from merely nominal to real and spiritual Christianity.

 

ü      An obligation has been undertaken from which only flagrant immorality

                        can liberate either party.

 

ü      Children may have been born during the union, whose welfare depends

                        upon its continuance.

 

ü      Affection may have sprung up which it would be a cruel outrage to

                        suspend or check. And then, in addition, there is the reason given in the

                        text.

 

ü      The continuance of the union may make the Christian husband or wife

                        the minister of spiritual blessing to the “unconverted” consort.

 

  • AN ATTRACTIVE REPRESENTATION MAY RE FURNISHED OF

            THE CHRISTIAN CHARACTER. The standard of moral excellence

            presented in the Word of God is indeed singularly high and admirable. But

            morality in a book is one thing, morality embodied in the life is quite

            another thing, Morality proclaimed from a pulpit is far less impressive than

            morality speaking from the domestic hearth. There are such virtues as

            truth, meekness, pity, patience, and charity, which are peculiarly Christian;

            and the exhibition of these is likely to lead to the inquiry — Whence come

            these traits of character? What is the secret of a life so different from the

            life of the selfish and the ungoverned? How many a husband has been won

            to Christ, beholding in his Christian wife a “a chaste conversation coupled

            with fear”! (I Peter 3:2)

 

  • AN UNCONSCIOUS INFLUENCE IN FAVOUR OF TRUE RELIGION

      MAY BE EXERCISED BY ONE PRAYERFULLY SOLICITOUS FOR THE

      SALVATION OF A SPOUSE. Who can know, unmoved, that a dear consort

      is seeking his spiritual welfare? There is a tone imparted to the intercourse of daily

      life by the habit of intercessory prayer. And there is a dignity, a gentleness, a

      spirituality, of manner and of language, which cannot escape the observation of such

      as are associated in the tenderest intimacies of life. There is no desire and prayer so

      all penetrating and all influential, as the desire and prayer for the spiritual and

            eternal welfare of those who are nearest and dearest, united by the most

            sacred and endearing of earthly ties.

 

  • AN OPPORTUNITY IS GIVEN IN THESE RELATIONSHIPS FOR

      EXPRESS INSTRUCTION AND PERSUASION WHICH MAY ISSUE

      IN SPIRITUAL GOOD. In many instances it may be unwise to make a special

      and formal effort to convince and to persuade; it may be better to leave religion to

      tell its own tale and do its own work. But cases do occur in which Providence

      makes an opening for an effort. Stanley’s remark upon this verse is well worth

      quoting: “The verse so understood has probably conduced to the frequent instances

      of the conversion of unbelieving husbands by believing wives. Even the stern severity

      of Chrysostom relaxes in its presence into the declaration, ‘that no teacher has

            such an effect in conversion as a wife,’ and this passage, thus interpreted,

            probably had a direct influence on the marriage of Clotilde with Clovis, and

            Bertha with Ethelbert, and consequently on the subsequent conversion of

            the two great kingdoms of France and England to the Christian faith.”

            There are few Christian ministers who from their own observation could

            not tell of similar instances in lowlier life, where God has blessed the influence

            of wife to husband, or of husband to wife, so that they have become heirs together

            of the grace of life. (I Peter 3:7)  Whilst, on the one hand, the mere hope of

            exercising such influence should never lead a man or a woman to marry an unbeliever,

            on the other hand, when unequal unions have been formed, (II Corinthians 6:14) the

            possibility opened up in this verse should lead to wise and affectionate effort, and to

            earnest and unwearying  prayer.

 

 

            Corroborative Instances of the Duty of Remaining in the Marital State

                                    Wherein Each was Called (vs. 17-24)

 

17 But - literally, if not. The phrase introduces a caution. The rule is that the circumstances

of our lives are regulated by the providence of God, and must not be arbitrarily altered at

our own caprice. Christ allotted His portion to each Christian, God hath called each man;

that lot and that call are to guide his life – “as God hath distributed to every man, as the

Lord hath called every one, so let him walk.  And so ordain I in all churches.”  Paul

proceeds to give specific instances to which this rule applies. 18 Is any man called being

circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision?

let him not be circumcised.”  The early fortunes of Christianity had been almost

shipwrecked by the attempt of Jewish rigorists to enforce this odious bondage on the

Gentiles, and their deliverance from it had been due almost solely to Paul. It was his

inspired insight which had swayed the decision of the synod at Jerusalem (Acts 15.);

and at a later period his Epistle to the Galatians was the manifesto of Gentile

emancipation. He proved that after Christ’s death “circumcision” (peritomh>, —

 per-it-om-ay’) became to Gentiles a mere physical mutilation (katatomh>, —

kat-at-om-ay; concision – [Philippians 3:2];  a contemptuous term for the Jewish

circumcision with its Judaistic influence, in contrast to the true spiritual circumcision of

the heart!  19 Circumcision is nothing” - The Jews regarded it as everything;

and to make this assertion at so early an epoch of Christian history, required all the courage

of Paul, and proved his grand originality. He was the first to prove to the Jews that

circumcision had become a thing intrinsically indifferent, which might, under some circumstances,

be desirable (as in the ease of Timothy), but could never be reckoned among essentials (for

salvation) – “and uncircumcision is nothing” - were, the liberty which it had cost him

endless peril and anguish to achieve. Each time he concludes it with a weighty clause to show

what is everything: “Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the

 keeping of the commandments of God” (v. 19); “... but faith which worketh by love”

(Galatians 5:6); “... but a new creation” (ibid. 6:15)  -  but the keeping of the

commandments of God.”  So John says, “Hereby we do know that we know Him, if

we keep His commandments.” – (I John 2:3)  20 Let every man abide in the same

calling wherein he was called.  21 Art thou called being a servant? care not for it:”

Do not be troubled by the fact, because in Christ “there is neither bond nor free”

(Galatians 3:28), and because earthly freedom is as nothing in comparison with the

freedom which Christ gives (John 8:36) – “but if thou mayest be made free, use it

rather.” The words may mean:

 

  • “use freedom” — avail yourself of the opportunity of emancipation; or

 

  • use slavery” — be content to remain a slave. In favor of the first

            interpretation is the fact that there is nothing extravagant or fantastic in

            Christian morality; and that, considering what ancient slavery was — how

            terrible its miseries, how shameful and perilously full of temptations were

            its conditions — it sounds unnatural to advise a Christian slave to remain a

            slave when he might gain his freedom. Yet the other interpretation, remain

            a slave by preference, seems to be required by the language.

 

22 For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman:

likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant.” Clearly the entire

bearing of this verse favors the view which we have taken of the previous verse.

Christ’s servant” - The sharp antithesis of this verse was often present to the mind

of the early Christians. They knew that the bondage of Satan was so crushing

that mere earthly bondage was, in comparison, as nothing; and that the liberty

wherewith Christ has made us free, though it might seem to take the form of service,

was the sole perfect freedom. The freedmen of sin are the most hopeless slaves;

the servants of God alone are free (see Romans 6:22; II Timothy 2:26; I Peter 2:16).

23 Ye are bought with a price” - rather, ye were bought, namely, by Christ; and

the price paid for you was his blood and that purchase was the pledge of

ABSOLUTE EMANCIPATION - (see I Corinthians 6:20; I Peter 1:18-19).

 be not ye the servants of men.  24 Brethren, let every man, wherein he is

called, therein abide with God.”

 

 

                        Advice for the Unmarried (vs. 25-40)

 

25 Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my

judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful.  26 I suppose

therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man

so to be.  27 Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed

from a wife? seek not a wife.  28 But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and

if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the

flesh: but I spare you.  29 But this I say, brethren, the time is short:” (the main

theme of this web site) - literally, the season has been contracted; in other words,

The end of all things is at hand” (I Peter 4:7). The word sunestalmenov -

sunestalmenos cannot mean “disastrous.” The verb is used for “folding up” in Acts 5:6).

The reading and punctuation are here uncertain. The best reading seems to be “The time

has been shortened henceforth, in order that,” etc. The very object of the hastened

end is that Christians should sit loose to earthly interests –“ it remaineth, that both they

that have wives be as though they had none.  30 And they that weep, as though

they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy,

as though they possessed not” - Earthly sorrow and joy and wealth are things which

are merely transient and unreal when compared with the awful, eternal, permanent realities

which we shall all soon have to face.  31 And they that use this world, as not abusing it:”

rather, as not using it to the full — not draining dry the cup of earthly advantages (compare

ch.9:18).  Like Gideon’s true heroes, we must not fling ourselves down to drink greedily of

the river of earthly gifts, but drink them sparingly, and as it were with the palm of the hand -

for the fashion of this world passeth away.” - So John says, “The world passeth away,

and the lust thereof” (I John 2:17). It is but as the shifting scene of a theatre, or as a melting

vapour (James 4:14).  32 But I would have you without carefulness.” - If they were

overcharged... with cares of this life,” the day of the Lord might easily “come upon them

unawares (Luke 21:34).  He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the

Lord, how he may please the Lord:  33 But he that is married careth for the things

that are of the world, how he may please his wife.”  Paul’s opinions here are, as he tells

us, opinions only, and admit of many modifications. In Paul’s later Epistles he does not revert

to this advice, but assumes that marriage is the normal condition.  34 There is difference

also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the

Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth

for the things of the world, how she may please her husband” - (divided interests) -

35 And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but

for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction.

36 But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin” - The

worduncomeliness” is terribly illustrated in Romans 1:27 -  “if she pass the flower of her

age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry.

37 Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but

hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his

virgin, doeth well.  38 So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that

giveth her not in marriage doeth better.  39 The wife is bound by the law as long as

her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to

whom she will; only in the Lord.  40 But she is happier if she so abide, after my

judgment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of God.”

 

 

                                                ADDITIONAL NOTES

 

                                      The Shortness of Time (vs. 29-31)

 

  • THE CHRISTIAN VIEW OF THIS LIFE.

 

ü      The time is shortened.” The apostle seems to have in view the coming

                        of Christ, of which the troubles of the time appeared to be the harbingers.

                        Any day the “sign of the Son of man” might be seen in the heavens, so

                        brief was the interval. Long centuries have rolled away since then, and the

                        strained eyes of the Church have not yet beheld that sign. Still, the

                        utterance of the apostle is not mistaken. Though the horizon that bounded

                        his vision has been widening with the ages, the time is still short. For us the

                        practical truth is that our life span here is brief, whether its boundary be the

                        Lord’s coming to us or our going to Him.

 

Ø      The time is short as compared with other periods. Brevity is a relative

                                    thing, according to the standard of measurement. The present average

                                    of human life is brief compared with the limit of “three score years

                                    and ten;”  (Psalm 90:10) - this term is brief compared with that of

                                    the antediluvians; the years of Methuselah are but an handbreadth

                                    compared with the duration of the earth; and this again is as nothing

                                    compared with eternity. LIFE SEEMS LONG IN PROSPECT,

                                    SHORT IN RETROSPECT. “Few and evil have the days and

                                    years of my life been” was Jacob’s testimony (Genesis 47:9) and

                                     is ever the old man’s plaint.

 

Ø      The time is short as compared with our life task. Every true ideal of life

                                    seems to mock the little space we are given to reach it. “Art is long and

                                    time is fleeting.” We learn little more than the alphabet of knowledge.

                                    We have but placed a few stones on the building when our work day is

                                    over, and we leave the structure to be completed by others. What can

                                    we accomplish in one short life for the perfecting of our Christian

                                    manhood, the extension of Christ’s kingdom, the redemption of our

                                    fellow men? But let us not either lower our ideal within attainable limits

                                    or fold our hands in despair. The true work of this life, stripped of its

                                    temporary form, is carried over into the life to come and continued there.

 

ü      “The fashion of this world passeth away?” (v. 31). It is like a scene in

                        a theatre — vanishing while you gaze on it.

 

Ø      This is true of external nature. All is in a condition of flux; there is

                                    nothing permanent. The face of the earth, the boundaries of sea and

                                    land, even the everlasting hills, — all have changed and are changing.

                                    And at last, when the day of the Lord comes, “the earth and the

                                    works that are therein shall be burned up” (II Peter 3:10).

 

Ø      This is true of human life.

 

                                                            All the world’s a stage,

                                                And all the men and women merely players.”

                                                            (‘As You Like It,’ act 2, sc. 5.)

 

                                    Within a single lifetime what changes do we see! Nations rise and fall;

                                    governments come and go; public men play their parts and then pass

                                    out of sight. How few of the friends of our youth and manhood remain

                                    with us till old age! New actors are ever coming on the stage and the

                                    old disappearing.  The customs of society, modes of living, the whole

                                    environment of life, are like so many shifting scenes.

 

Ø      This is true of ourselves. The seven ages (see reference above) are the

                                    seven acts of our little life drama; and each successive age brings its

                                    characteristic habits of mind. Standing amid all this transitoriness, where

                                    nothing is stable and abiding, we need to hold by the Unchanging in

                                    order to keep our balance.  (The hardest lesson in life has been

                                    there is change” thus the hope of heaven – a land in which we

                                    will never grow old and God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the

                                    Holy Spirit – the same world without end CY – 2010)

 

  • THE PURPOSE OF GOD IN THE BREVITY OF LIFE. The time has

            been shortened that we may sit loosely to all earthly things. Their

            temporary character is to be remembered in all our relations to them. This

            is illustrated in several particulars.

 

ü      The married life. “That those that have wives may be as though they

      had none.” The apostle does not say that celibacy is a more spiritual

      condition than marriage. There is no asceticism in his teaching here or

      elsewhere. The married are to be as the unmarried, remembering that

      marriage is one of those things that are passing away. While loving

      husband and wife, we are not to forget that the time is short. This stage

      of existence is but preparatory to another, where “they neither marry

      nor are given in marriage” (Luke 20:35).

 

ü      Sorrow. “Those that weep, as though they wept not?” Tears are not

                        forbidden to the Christian. This is no stoical precept, bidding us refrain

                        from weeping as inconsistent with our dignity. Grief is human, and all that

                        is purely human Christianity encourages. “Jesus wept” (John 11:35).

                        The liker we are to Him, the more tender of heart, the mere sympathetic

                        shall we become. But we are to weep remembering that the time is short.

                        Sorrow also is transitory. It must not master us or break our hearts.

                        Whatever touches the spring of tears — bereavement, loss, pain, the

                        sufferings of others — belongs to the temporary condition of things.

                        “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning”

                        (Psalm 30:5); “And he shall wipe away every tear from their eyes,”

                        (Revelation 21:4). Therefore weep as though you wept not.

 

ü      Joy. “Those that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not.” Christianity does

                        not frown upon earthly happiness. It is the part of Satan to represent the

                        religious life as one of gloom, and the teaching of some Christians gives

                        color to the falsehood. Nature, literature, the arts, society, domestic

                        fellowship, — all may pour their tributaries into the stream of our gladness.

                        None should enjoy God’s world like God’s own child. But here the

                        tempering thought comes in — “The time is short.” Even this is not our

                        highest joy, for it springs from a source that will soon be dried up. The

                        joy unspeakable and full of glory” (I Peter 1:8) belongs to the region of

                        faith, and flows from those things which faith alone apprehends. Apply this

                        to amusements. Pure and wholesome entertainments are to be encouraged,

                        especially for the young. But whatever will not bear the thought of the

                        brevity of life is not good for a Christian. The believer moderates his joy

                        with the thought that “the Lord is at hand.”  (Philippians 4:5)

 

ü      Possessions. “Those that buy, as though they possessed not.”

      Christians are not forbidden to engage in trade or merchandise with a view

      to the acquisition of property. Every lawful calling is open to them. They

      are not prohibited from possessing wealth. The real question is — What

      place has it in the heart? Earthly possessions are to be held under the

      recollection that they belong to a transitory state of things. The man of

      substance is to sit loosely to what he possesses, not forgetting that “the

      things which are seen are temporal” (II Corinthians 4:18).

 

ü      The use of the world. Those that use the world, as not abusing it.”

      All that God gives us of this world is to be used as ministering to our need.

                        The thing to be guarded against is the wrong use of it. It is to be our

                        servant, not our master. God has put it under our feet (Psalm 8:6), and

                        we must keep it there. We abuse the world

 

Ø      if we seek it as the chief good of life, or

Ø       if we use it so as to hurt or hinder our spiritual life.

 

(May we be like Philip Henry, Matthew Henry’s father, who was known for

praying “Lord, help me to be ready to leave this world or to be left!”)

 

 

 

                                    Religion and Business (v. 24)

 

The apostle, in this and the connected chapters, is giving to the Corinthian Christians a

variety of counsels respecting the various relationships of life which they were called to

sustain.  The gospel of Jesus Christ, which brings its influence first to bear on the individual,

next exerts its power on the family and social relations; and we can well understand how,

in those early days, a number of serious practical questions would arise and demand

consideration. One of these questions concerned the condition of servitude, serfdom, in

which many of the early converts were placed. The apostle points out that personal religion

is independent of calling or of social position. Whatever our earthly lot may be, we can be

truly godly as we fulfil it; and Paul recommends that every one should continue in the

business which he happened to be pursuing when the grace of God came to him,

provided it was an honest and honorable business. His one counsel is that, whatever may

be their place or their work, they should therein abide with God, in fellowship with God,

in obedience to the will of God, in openness to the leadings of the Spirit of God, and in

reliance upon the daily strength of God. Regarding the text in this light, it may direct us to

consider the practical influence of Christianity on a man’s business. We dwell on three points.

 

§         Religion is above business.

§         Religion comes into business.

§         Religion must not be lost in business.

 

·        RELIGION IS ABOVE BUSINESS. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God,

      and His righteousness.” (Matthew 6:33)  “What shall it profit a man if he

      gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”  (Mark 8:36)

 

ü      Religion is above business in its character. Its interests are different; its

                        aims are different; its prevailing spirit is different and nobler. It is the

                        heavenly occupation and the heavenly spirit.

           

ü      Religion is above business in its demands. Business calls for the exercise

                        of mind and skill; it asks the culture of our bodily powers — it develops

                        skill of hand, promptness of judgment, keenness of insight, and

                        perseverance in effort. It goes even further than this, and calls out certain

                        moral qualities, the more simple and natural qualities, such as honesty,

                        integrity, diligence, and truthfulness. But religion demands more, even

                        purity, unselfishness, a fine consideration for the well being of others,

                        rightness of motive, and the inspiration of a supreme purpose to glorify

                        God. Business does not touch the affections. Yet we are only cold,

                        grasping, self seeking creatures, if life and conduct are not toned by

                        affections; and the religion which purifies and nourishes our affections

                        must be above business.

 

ü      Religion is above business in its issues. Business results are a certain

                        measure of worldly comfort in our home, a share of the pleasures which

                        the world can afford, and a position of respect and influence among our

                        fellow men. What more than this can the most successful business bring? It

                        wins nothing that can go through the “great gates” with us. “For we

                        brought nothing into this world, and it is certain that we can carry

                        nothing out” – (I Timothy 6:7) Its issues have rather to do with quantity

                        than with quality; they are bounded by life, and have no out teachings into

                        eternity. Religion is above it, since “godliness hath both the promise of

                        the life that now is, and of that which is to come.”  (ibid. 4:8)

                        Religion shines down on common life all the golden rays that make the

                        beauty of the present prospect, and it assures us that all it can shed now are

                        but a few scattered rays of an “exceeding and eternal weight of glory,”

                        (II Corinthians 4:17) which will shine forever on the “good and faithful

                         servants.”

 

  • RELIGION COMES DOWN INTO BUSINESS. Because it is higher

            than business, it claims to take it up into its grasp and glorify it, breathing

            its own noble spirit into all business relations. Some men do not hesitate to

            say that religion and business occupy separate spheres. Ward Beecher says,

            “How hateful is that religion which says, ‘Business is business, and politics

            are politics, and religion is religion’! Religion is using everything for God.

            But many men dedicate business to the devil, and shove religion into the

            cracks and crevices of time, and make it the hypocritical out-crawling of

            their leisure and laziness.”

 

ü      Religion comes into business as a new force, nourishing diligence.

                        William Jay used to say that Christian tradesmen ought to be the best

                        tradesmen, and Christian servants should be the best servants, and he

                        would sometimes quaintly add, “There’s many a good woman who is not

                        a good washer woman.’

 

ü      Religion comes as a Divine help in bearing disappointment and loss.

                        Many by the troubles of business life are made reckless and hard. It is a

                        great tiring that religion, in a world where “man is born to trouble,”

                        (Job 5:7) should help us to suffer well.

 

ü      Religion comes into business to elevate our standards of honesty and

                        uprightness. We need not affirm that integrity is only connected with

                        religion; but we may fully admit that the high standards are maintained by

                        religion, and that it stands foremost among the forces that preserve

                        business morality.

 

ü      And religion comes into business as a spirit tempering business

                        relations. It makes men more gentle, considerate, and gracious towards

                        others; and elevates the tone of masterhood and servanthood, establishing

                        mutual helpfulness as the ruling feature in all relationships.

 

  • RELIGION MUST NOT BE LOST IN BUSINESS. This it may be in

            two ways.

 

ü      By excess of ambition and exertion preventing due attention to religious

                        duties and personal culture (see II Timothy 2:4).

 

ü      By the wealth getting spirit spoiling the Christian spirit. Illustrate by our

                        Lord’s saying, “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the

                        kingdom of heaven!”  (Luke 18:24)

 

 

"Excerpted text Copyright AGES Library, LLC. All rights reserved.

Materials are reproduced by permission."

 

This material can be found at:

http://www.adultbibleclass.com