“This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.” - 1 Corinthians 7:29-31
Have you ever wondered what eternity will be like? Maybe you’ve discussed with friends what questions you would ask Jesus, or what you think heaven will look like. Looking forward to the future we have with Christ is one of the greatest joys we have as Christians, and it often sparks conversation.
Paul’s directions can seem odd when taken alone or considered out of context of his life, culture, and the Bible as a whole. Fortunately, he makes it clear before and after today’s passage that he’s not advocating for people to divorce their spouse, pretend like grief doesn’t matter, or live without joy. He’s also, most certainly, not asking that you live disconnected from the world or ignore its existence as you look forward to eternity.
So, if he’s not advising any of those extremes, then what is he getting at? Paul is encouraging the Corinthians to leave behind the habit they had of only thinking about the present world. Throughout 1 Corinthians, Paul consistently points the Corinthian believers to Christ, urging them to lay down their rights for the sake of others and make love their aim: to love God and love their neighbor. As Christians, Paul is asking them to leave behind their old ways of selfishness, living for present glory and pleasure, and look instead to the eternal promise they have in Christ.
It’s so easy to get caught up in what’s happening around us, to allow it to overwhelm and consume our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Even good things like a loving spouse can become an all-consuming idol that we place as more important than loving and serving God. Things of this life can make us forget how temporary they are. Paul’s direction is to live today faithfully by remembering that today is passing away. He wanted the Corinthians to live with an eternal perspective and he would ask that we do the same.
Is there anything that consumes your life? Maybe it’s the news, or wondering where your next paycheck will come from, or someone you love. While all concerns and events in life matter and are important, what’s something about eternity that can help you live with less anxiety and more focus on Jesus?
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