“So the person who marries does well, and the person who doesn’t marry does even better.” (1 Corinthians 7:38 TLB)
This may come as a shock to you, and I hate to burst your bubble, but I have to agree with St. Paul that being “unmarried” is better.
In the past, whenever I came across 1 Corinthians 7, I would giggle in agreement because, hey, being married isn’t always rainbows and sunshine. But I never got much out of the chapter because I am married.
Normally, this chapter would become like the book of Leviticus – skimmed and skipped. But last night, in my study time, the Holy Spirit gave me “eyes to see” something new and I started to wonder if Paul was giving more than just relationship advice.
We marry a lot of things in our lives – jobs, diet plans, monthly box subscriptions that bring all you could ever want, wish, or hope for right to your door.
We marry volunteer opportunities. We marry different role responsibilities. The world offers so many different things for us to become committed do it can get overwhelming.
Could Paul have been offering us wisdom on living a simpler life? Could he be encouraging us to stay “unmarried” to some commitments so that we focused on what God has called us to?
“All I am saying is that when you marry, you take on additional stress in an already stressful time, and I want to spare you if possible.” (1 Corinthians 7:28b MSG)
When our plates are full we have no room for God’s food. We don’t have as much time to spend with Him if our schedules are married to other things. Things we must care and nurture for. Things we must please.
But if we stay unmarried, by saying no to the other stuff, we can spend that extra time fully invested in our relationship with God. Without such a heavy load we can walk freely in the roles God planned for us so long ago.
“The time and energy that married people spend on caring for and nurturing each other, the unmarried can spend in becoming whole and holy instruments of God. I’m trying to be helpful and make it as easy as possible for you, not make things harder. All I want is for you to be able to develop a way of life in which you can spend plenty of time together with the Master without a lot of distractions.” (1 Corinthians 7:34b-35 MSG, emphasis mine)
Earlier in the chapter, Paul says that “each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them” (1 Corinthians 7:20 NIV). Remaining can be hard for some of us when we see all the things the world has to offer. It’s so much easier to create your own grab bag of things that seem fun or fulfilling.
Sometimes God’s plan doesn’t go as fast as we want, doesn’t produce what we want, and doesn’t feel the way we’d hoped. His slow and patient pace goes completely against the world’s definition of success and happiness.
That’s how it pulls us in, promising this and that, promising answers to all our questions, solutions to all our problems. And we buy it, well I do at least. And out of nowhere I find myself standing in the middle of the woods like Hansel and Gretel, wondering where I got off the breadcrumb trail.
Staying unmarried as much as possible truly is better. It gives us the space to rest and abide in The One who knows our deepest desires. It gives us the time to commit to God’s eternal kingdom work.
We each have to assess our lives and decided what to marry and what not to marry. It won’t look the same for every person. But when an opportunity arises that has the potential to be a distraction to God’s call on our life, staying unmarried to it is, as Paul says, “a wise decision” (1 Corinthians 7:37 TLB).
Not everything we do is going to always feel fun and exciting, sometimes we have seasons where God calls us to boring jobs to support our family or seasons of waiting and resting in Him. But as long as we bring our whole life to the Lord with all the opportunities it brings, as long as we lay it all at he foot of the cross and allow Him to be our navigator, then we can be more certain that the things we marry are the best things for us and for His kingdom.
“So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision – you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it….There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them…But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ!” (Philippians 3:15-16, 18, 20 MSG, emphasis mine)