Healthy Church: Temple Bodies – Part 4

May 2, 2023

Series: Healthy Church

Bible Passage: 1 Corinthians 7:25-40

Our passage this morning is going to speak to the damage of always comparing ourselves to others.  Have you noticed we can be rocking along in life, doing great, enjoying the Lord, hopeful about life and then we visit a friend who just got a new car, and now we hate our car.

5 minutes ago, we loved our car.  5 minutes ago, we were thankful for the Lord’s provision in our life for that car.  Now the only thing we can think about is why our car doesn’t have all these new cool features compared to that new car.

Same thing happens with our career.  5 minutes ago, we were excited about work.  We enjoyed going to work and then someone we know gets a better job, better title, more income, and we hate our job.

Same things happen with where we live, where we go on vacation, marriage, children, people at different stages in life.  Everything was going great until we talk to that one person and now all we can think about is how miserable we are in life.  It’s because of comparison and that’s the main focus of our passage this morning.

Specifically, our passage is going to speak to people who aren’t married in contrast to people who are married but at the heart of the passage is the wisdom to be content with where we are in life instead of always comparing ourselves to others.  Look at 1 Corinthians 7, verse 25:

1 Corinthians 7:25, “25 Now concerning virgins I have no command of the Lord, but I give an opinion as one who by the mercy of the Lord is trustworthy.”

I know, it’s so early for virgins!  It’s possible some of us are jumping into 1 Corinthians for the first time, so you need to know in the first 4 chapters the primary theme is quarrels and conflicts in their church family.

In chapter 5 we see quarrels and conflicts because someone is in an open sexual relationship with their father’s wife.  In chapter 6 they are taking one another to court.  At the end of chapter 6 men and women in the local church are engaged in sexual relationships with prostitutes.

And, in chapter 7, there are married people not having sex with one another.  Did you catch that?  Single people having sex with everyone and married people not having sex with anyone.  That’s the context of 1 Corinthians!

In verse 25 the Apostle Paul is using the word “virgin” for a connotation of men and women who aren’t married, so that in verses 1-24 the Apostle Paul is mainly talking about people who are married, and now he is switching to people who aren’t married.  Look at verses 26-28:

1 Corinthians 7:26-28, “26 I think then that this is good in view of the present distress, that it is good for a man to remain as he is. 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 But if you marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Yet such will have trouble in this life, and I am trying to spare you.”

In verses 26-28 the Apostle Paul is pointing the Corinthians toward relational freedom because the men and women in the Corinthian church were comparing themselves to one another so much that it causing quarrels and conflicts with one another.

This can happen in our relationships with one another.  Sometimes married people in Austin, TX will put pressure on single people to get married.   There is a lull in the conversation so that a married person asks the single person, “Don’t you want to get married? Why aren’t you married?  Are you dating anyone?  I can help.”

Sometimes that pressure to get married comes from other people and sometimes that pressure to get married comes from within because it’s like every movie we watch is about the girl finding the guy and living happily ever after, so that a single person starts asking themselves, “Why won’t anyone ask me on a date? Do people not think I am attractive? Is something wrong with me?”

What are we doing in those moments?  We are comparing our stage of life with someone else’s stage of life, so that we are becoming discouraged about where we are in life and God’s Word is pressing into our souls, “Why are you doing this?”

Specifically, in the context of 1 Corinthians 7 we see there are circumstantial benefits to remaining single.  Do you see that in verse 26 and verse 28?

We don’t know the specifics but in verse 26 there is a reference to a “present distress” and in verse 28 there is a reference to “trouble in this life.”

Maybe it was the beginning stages of persecution that was going to take place under Nero?  It’s possible there was a severe famine?  We don’t know for sure, but either way the Apostle Paul concludes, “It’s great to be married, but it’s also great to not be married.”

Hear that this morning, God’s Word gives a freedom to not get married.  As a follower of Jesus, God’s Word makes it clear that marriage is a gift.  Ephesians 5, “Marriage is a picture of love that Jesus has for His people.”  1 Timothy 4, “People who forbid marriage are demonic.”  Hebrews 13, “Marriage is to be honored by all.”

So, the answer isn’t to mock marriage.  It is very trendy in our culture to mock marriage.  Our culture assumes if you want to elevate something you have to put down something but you don’t have to mock marriage to avoid getting married.  It’s just the opposite.  God’s Word says, “It’s great to not get married.”

That doesn’t mean you don’t get married because marriage sounds hard or because being single sounds easy but it’s great to not be married.  Look at verses 29-31:

1 Corinthians 7:29-31, “29 But this I say, brethren, the time has been shortened, so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none; 30 and those who weep, as though they did not weep; and those who rejoice, as though they did not rejoice; and those who buy, as though they did not possess; 31 and those who use the world, as though they did not make full use of it; for the form of this world is passing away.”

In verses 29-31 the Apostle Paul is describing a perspective on life that a follower of Jesus’ ultimate purpose in life is to live for His glory.  Do you see that in the passage?

The phrase “the time has been shortened” is a reference to Jesus’ return.  Jesus lived a perfect life, put to death on the cross, resurrected, ascended to the right hand of the Father, so that right now we are waiting for Jesus to return.

The apostles all lived with a perspective, a mindset that Jesus could return at any moment, so that verses 29-31 is describing our calling as a follower of Jesus.  You might be married, you might not be married, it doesn’t matter, because in Christ our greater call is to not get swept up in the ways of this world.  Does that make sense?

Now, it’s been 2,000 years, Jesus hasn’t returned, but as a follower of Jesus we want to live with that same urgency, “Time is short, the world is not our home, this world is passing away, therefore, our outlook on life is shaped by that understanding.  It doesn’t matter if you are married or not married.  Let’s get practical.

It’s great to enjoy the gift of marriage but we need to be careful that the gift of marriage doesn’t become our top priority.  Right?  God’s Word makes it clear that our marriage doesn’t carry into eternity, Matthew 22, therefore, we don’t want to pour our whole life into our marriage.

Listen to me, it doesn’t mean we neglect marriage but I think it’s possible we can put too much pressure on our marriage.  Our spouse isn’t supposed to complete us.  Our spouse isn’t supposed to be able to read our minds.  Our spouse isn’t supposed to be able to understand our every thought.  They are just our spouse, therefore, let us be careful not to invest too much in our marriage.

It’s great to bring children into this world.  Children are a blessing.  Children are a gift but our children are not given to parents as a gift so that our every focus in life is about making our children happy.  It doesn’t mean we neglect our children but we make sure they have a roof, they have a bed, they have some clothes and food and that’s good.

Listen to me, our culture creates this myth that if you parent your children the right way.  If you give them vegetables, expose them to Baby Mozart, encourage all their interests, never raise your voice, then you will be able to raise a child that never encounters any challenges in life and that’s not true.  Our children can’t become our focus!  Our time is short!

Let’s talk about how we look at our homes.  Listen, I know you just wanted an encouraging word this morning.  I know it is popular for other churches to talk about polarizing topics right now, so that pastors are either embracing our cultural or fighting cultural, so that Sunday morning is always pointing the finger at someone else.

But God’s Word hasn’t gathered us together to press in on someone else.  No, God’s Word has gathered us to press in on our souls, so if God’s Word is talking about not getting “swept up with this world” and sometimes that can take place in how we look at our homes.

Our homes were never meant to be our fortress of solitude.  Our homes were never meant to be our retreat from the world.  Our homes were never meant to be the place we run to for warmth and comfort.

As a follower of Jesus where are we to run for warmth and comfort?  We run to Christ!  So, let us be careful when we start building out our homes to be more than the place we eat and sleep and shower.

What about retirement?  Oh, too much!  Is it possible we are getting “swept up in the world of retirement.”  Is it possible we are looking over the fence at how good others have it in retirement?  Why didn’t the Lord provide for me as much as they provided for them?  Doesn’t the Lord care about me?  Why don’t I get to play golf every day, get massages every day, take trips every day?

Show me in Scripture where the follower of Christ retires on a beach.  I love the beach but show me the follower of Jesus that lives all day on the golf course.  Show me the follower of Jesus that retreats to their mountain home to get away from people.  Time is short.  This world is passing away.  Our citizenship is in heaven! (Philippians 3)

What about that single life?  It’s possible that a person might pursue singleness because they are fearful of marriage.  It’s possible that a person might avoid marriage because they want to avoid sacrificing for others, hard conversation with others, but in the context of 1 Corinthians 7 the benefits of being single is not for selfish gain, but so that a person might more fully devote themselves to Christ, just as it is for the married person, rich person, poor person, the invitation is to be fully devoted to Jesus.  Look at verses 32-34:

1 Corinthians 7:32-34, “32 But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; 33 but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.”

Okay, at first glance these verses can be really confusing because it can sound like the unmarried person is actually serving the Lord and the married person is wasting their time in marriage, right?

But the key to understanding these verses is two parts.  The first is in the word “concern” that is repeated 5 times in those verses.  Do you see it?

In verse 32 the charge is to be “free from concern” but then Paul writes “the unmarried person is concerned with the things of the Lord” and the married person is concerned with the things of the world so I am not sure God’s Word is trying to pit these two areas of life against one another.

Second, the phrase “things of the Lord” and things of the world” sound like he is comparing “godly” things with “ungodly” things, right?  But we know investing in our marriage has a husband and wife isn’t ungodly.  It can’t mean that.

I think when the Apostle Paul uses that phrase he means “things of the Lord” that are outside marriage and family.  You with me?

Things of the Lord inside the family are still godly and important but the Apostle Paul in this passage is elevating a person who doesn’t get married and a person who doesn’t get married will have more time for things outside the family like caring for the poor, serving the body of Christ, studying God’s Word, sharing the gospel, so that all who are in Christ are called to those “things of the Lord” but a person who isn’t married will be more available to those “things of the Lord.”  You with me?

Mowing the yard is godly.  Changing a diaper is godly.  Going on a date with your wife is godly.  Preparing a meal for your spouse is godly.  Mending clothes for your children is godly.  Those things aren’t evil.  The Apostle Paul can’t mean that but the person who isn’t married is more available, not for themselves, but for the Lord because that is our ultimate call in life as a follower of Jesus.  Look at verse 35:

1 Corinthians 7:35, “35 This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.”

That’s the focus for all who are in Christ!  Are you married?  Great!  Are you single?  Great!  Are you rich, poor, black, white, short, tall; great!  The call for all who are in Christ is to have a “secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.”

That word “devotion to the Lord” means to sit near the Lord.  It is to love what Jesus loves.  That’s the invitation of God’s Word this morning.  It is to draw near to the Lord and the things of the Lord.  Sit in that for a second.

I think it’s possible a person thinks, “So I need to become a pastor, become a missionary in a remote place?”  Maybe?  I also think we can be fully devoted to Jesus in Austin.  I think it might look a little different for all us but in general whether we eat, or drink or whatever it is we do, we can do so for the glory of the Lord!

We can work to the glory of the Lord.  We can “Build and Belong” to the glory of the Lord.  We can take naps to the glory of the Lord.  How we raise children, spend money, resolve conflict, care for our bodies, share the gospel, turn from sin, and live for His glory.  The time is short!  This world is passing away!

I was listening to a podcast interviewing Sam Altman.  Sam Altman is the CEO of Open AI and Sam Altman isn’t financially invested in Open AI interviewer asked Sam, “Why would you invest your life in something that you don’t financial reward?”

Sam Altman said, “I have had the benefit of making plenty of money.  I can do whatever I want with my time, I can’t think of anything else I would dedicate my time to than Open AI.”

Is that not how we would approach our faith in Jesus?  Is there anything in this life that is more worthy of our life than Jesus?