THE TIME IS SHORT
I Corinthians 7:25-33
In writing to the church in Corinth, the apostle had to answer several questions with regard to marriage. In view of the troubling time, caused by horrendous Jewish and Roman persecution, when men often had to flee their houses, one question was, “Is it best during this troubling time to get married or remain single?” In regard to this and other questions, Paul had received no direct teaching from Christ. Hence, Paul simply gave them his advice as an inspired apostle and a religious teacher of good judgment. In verses 25,26 Paul said he had no commandment from Christ on whether they should or should not get married, but he added, “I suppose therefore that it is good because of the present distress for a man to remain as he is.” This was Pail's considered judgment and not a commandment of God. The present distress was suffering caused by Jewish and Roman opposition to the Christian religion., and under the circumstances Paul said I suppose that the advice I give you is good, but you can use your own judgment.
His principal advice is well expressed in verses 29-33, “But this I say, brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they have none, those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoiced as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away. But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord–how he may please the Lord, but he who is married cares for the things of the world–how he may please his wife.”
What an odd but intriguing statement! Christians who are married should live as though they were not married. Those who are sorrowful should live as though they were not sorrowful. Those who are joyful should live as though they were not joyful, and those who are successful in business should live as though they were not prosperous. This excellent advice occurs in the middle of a discussion on marriage, and tells us how we ought to regard all the troubling things of this life and permit none of them to interfere with the service we owe to Christ. No matter what happens to us, we must put first the kingdom of heaven for that will determine our eternal destiny. He is talking about far more than marriage. He leaves nothing out that we might use and enjoy in this world. He speaks of marriage, tears. laughter, material possessions, and everything we have, handle and desire. His advice to them is that because of the distressful, persecuting time, there are three good reasons why he advised them to remain unmarried. You can marry if you wish, but consider what I say.
Firstl, says Paul, the suffering and distraction marriage might bring with it can interfere with you faithfully serving the Lord. In the present circumstance of the church, marriage will be a burden. If you are married don't seek to be loosed. If you are not married don't get married. Moreover, these troublesome times, as bad as they are, does not justify putting away your wives, but it should persuade Christians not to get married. Marriage will increase your care and worry, for you must watch out for the welfare and safety of your wife and children as well as yourself. A woman might be safer living with her father and family. In these times it will be difficult enough for a single person to be faithful to the Lord. Nevertheless, if you marry you have not sinned, but you will have trouble in the flesh. The reference is to afflictions and hard times which would attend marriage in times of trouble. There are hectic times in life when young men and women should think twice before entering into marriage. Think about those times in Germany in World War II when the Jews were persecuted by the Germans. Their homes, possessions, clothes were taken away, and even the gold fillings in their teeth. Was that a time for young men and women to get married? Is it a good time to get married just before you go off to combat in time of war? It makes it harder for the man and the woman to be faithful to each other. I am sure Paul felt badly about giving these unpleasant instructions to young men and women who wanted to get married. However, under no circumstances can we allow marriage or the single life interfere with Christian responsibilities we owe to God. We must not allow the cares of marriage to distract us or cause us to lose interest in serving Christ. A bad marriage has messed up the spiritual life of many Christians. Marriage problems have caused many to fall away from the church. Be it hard times or good times, let those that have wives serve God as faithfully as if they had no wives. Married people should serve Christ just as faifhfully as if they were single people. Let wives faithfully serve Christ as if they had no husbands. and let the husbands do likewise. What will it profit a person if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul? No one can afford to lose the gift of eternal life. That is the main point Paul is making.
The second reason he gave to abstain from marriage in the present distress was the transitory nature of all earthly things. Another reason you should not marry in a time like this is , “The time is short.” You will soon have to leave your wives and husbands, whatever you choose to do. . Usually, one must go and one must stay. One must leave and one must grieve. Sometimes the loss of a husband or wife tears the life apart of the one who remains. Some are so lonesome they feel they have nothing left to live for, and even lose interest in the church. Someone one wrote this beautiful poem to comfort those who lost their loving mate.
ONE OR THE OTHER MUST LEAVE
One of the other must leave,
One or the other must stay.
One or the other must grieve,
That is forever the way.
That is the vow that was sworn,
Braving what had to be borne–
Faithful till death do us part,
Hiding the ache in the heart.
One, howsoever adored,
First must be summoned away
That is the will of the Lord,
One or the other must stay.
Another unknown author composed this beautiful message:
“When I come to the end of the road, and the sun has set for me,
I need no rites in a gloom-filled room. Why cry for a soul set free? Miss me a little while, but not too long, and not with head bowed low. Remember the love we once shared; miss me but let me go. For this is a journey we all must take, and each must go alone. It's all a part of the Master's plan, a step on the road to home. When you are sick and lonely at heart, go to the friends we know, and bury your sorrow doing good deeds. Miss me–but let me go.” Even the loss of our loving mate must never interfere with being a faithful, devoted Christian.
What did Paul mean, “The time is short?” The time that is short is the allotted time of life that God grants us to us-- 70, 80 or 90 years, barring premature death. We have no assurance that we will live the average of 70. Life is so short we should allow no earthly sorrow to adversely affect our efforts to go to heaven. Use this world but don't misuse it, for the form of this world passing away. He means the time God has allotted man and woman is brief at its longest. God made our lifetime short lest we become to earth-minded. Never forget that marriage is a transitory, earthly, human experience, as is every other earthly attachment and experience. Death will end the marriage relationship, and if you become too dependant and too attached, it will tear your life apart. Don't let that happen!. Marriage is not that
Maarriage is not that important. Hold every earthly attachment and every earthly pleasure with a loose hand hand. Live your life in Christ as though you were not married, and if you lose your life-mate it won't affect your loyalty to Christ
The same truth applies to all other experiences of life. Let those who sorrow and weep be as though they did not weep; let those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, those who use this world as not misusing it. Marriage, sorrow, happiness, tears, laugher and material possessions should not interfere in any way with our service to Christ. Live as if you had none of these experiences in life. The way to enjoy all the pleasant experiences in life, and the way to handle all the troubles of life is not to become dependant on any earthly or created thing. If we become dependant on any earthly possession, we no longer possess it; it possess us. We are not the masters then; we are the servants. The loss of any of these possessions should not destroy our present or future happiness. We are going to lose our wives, our husbands, our possessions, sooner or later. . We must not go to pieces over the loss of what we have loved so much. This applies to everything we have enjoyed: marriage, business, food, clothing, recreation and friendship. We shall take these gifts and these responsibilities and use them until the last, and when any of them end, be it sooner or later, we shall continue to live the abundant life in Christ. We will continue on our way to the mansions of the Father in heaven. Faithful Christians are destined to enjoy an endless life in heaven, and the Bible says, “Fight the good fight of faith; lay hold on eternal life.” And we will do this without any disturbance of mind whatsoever because of what we have lost.
The only way we can do what Paul told us to do about all our earthly possessions is to be fearlessly independent of all things earthly. We must not become dependant on the things of the here and now. Handle all things of earth loosely, knowing that they take to themselves wings and flee away. Remember to hold all the good things of earth with a loose hand, though it be a wife, husband, child, property, health, fame, or wealth. Be ready to surrender it all into the Father's hand. No matter what earthly gift we may loose, we must go on, and put first the kingdom of Christ and His righteousness. Jesus said if we do this all other things we need in life will be supplied us.
Finally, Paul gave one more reason why those early Christians should not get married in such troublesome times. There is a comparative freedom from earthly cares connected with the single life. Single people
have less responsibilities than married people. The wife has responsibilities to the husband, and the husband to the wife. Both have special responsibilities to their children. There is much family responsibility that takes up much of their time. Even in ordinary times married people have special responsibilities that take up much of their time. On the other hand the unmarried may devote himself more completely to the things of the Lord, that is, the service of Christ. Having no family to provide for and to protect in times of distress and persecution, he is less encumbered with worldly cares. It was probably best for young people in that day to remain single and attend to their own personal salvation, protect themselves, as best they could from the distress of the times, and do what they could to advance the cause of Christ. We are to put Christ and His kingdom first, whether married or unmarried, but when the Christian religion is being oppressed, rejected, despised and cruelly persecuted, the single person can probably endure it the better and do more for Christ. I think all would agree that under the circumstances Paul gave these Christians excellent advice.