Concerning the Unmarried - Page 5 (series: Lessons on 1 Cor.)
by John Lowe
be as though they had none;
Paul is saying that in spite of the stress of the times, they are to put God first. If you are married, can you act as if you are not married by putting God first? Paul is not encouraging them to neglect their proper family duties, but he is encouraging them to live as if the time is short. It means that we will not live as if our earthly family was all that mattered, but we will live with an eye to eternity. A time is short attitude will not indulge the feelings and things of this world; weeping, rejoicing, having possessions, and being entertained must not get in the way of following Jesus. Morris had this to say about the world passing away: "There is nothing solid and lasting in this world system; it is its nature to pass away. It is folly for believers to act as though its values were permanent."
Paul does not intend for them to put away their wives, or imagine that they had none, or abandon the marriage bed; but instead, he suggests a moderate use of it; he would not have them give up themselves to carnal lusts and pleasures, even with their own wives, and spend all their time in their company: but since the time of life was short, and full of troubles, they should spend it in the service and worship of God, private and public, as much as possible; and not by indulging and satisfying the flesh.
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;
And they that weep, as though they wept not;
The apostle continues the general instructions he began in verse 29, which was for all Christians to carry themselves with an indifference towards the world and everything in it. He began with the marriage relationship: He said, “Those that had wives must be as though they had none.” In this verse he continues to give some general rules regarding three subjects that involve all of us; afflictions, worldly enjoyment, and our employment. As for afflictions: Those that weep must be as though they wept not; that is, we must not be depressed too much with any of our afflictions, or involve ourselves in the sorrow of the world, but keep up a holy joy in God in the midst of all our troubles, so that even in sorrow the heart may be joyful, and after all our grief is past we can once again be happy. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy will come in the morning. The great consolation of Christians is “heaven”: If we can get to heaven at last, all tears shall be wiped from our eyes; and the prospect of that should reduce our sorrows and hold back our tears.
The general idea in all these expressions is, that in whatever situation Christians are in, they should be dead to the world, and not excessively affected by passing events. It is impossible for human nature NOT to feel distressed when persecuted, maligned, slandered, or when earthly friends or family are taken away by death. But religion will calm the troubled spirit; light up a smile in the midst of tears; cause the beams of a calm and lovely morning to rise on the anxious heart; silence the commotions of the agitated soul, and produce joy even in the midst of sorrow. Religion will keep us from excessive grief, and sustain the soul even when the loss of a dear mother causes us to shed the tear of mourning. Christ sweat great drops of blood and Christians often weep; but the heart may be calm, peaceful, elevated, confident in God, in the darkest night and the severest tempest of calamity.
Those that weep over troubles, things afflicting marriage, and the loss of wives or children, should express their sorrow in such a manner and to such a degree, that is as if they wept not; not that the apostle aims to establish a enduring apathy, where a person would show no concern for these things; but the thrust of this teaching is for a moderate expression of sorrow that would not distract from expressions of holiness and religion: “As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things” (2 Cor 6:10; KJV). The question you must ask yourself is, “Are you going to let some sorrow, some tragedy in your life keep you from serving God?”
and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not;
Here, the apostle speaks of worldly enjoyment: Those that rejoice should be as though they rejoiced not; that is, they should not make entertainment and comfort the focus of their lives. They must be reasonable in their entertainment, and not spend an inordinate amount of time engage in the enjoyments they value the most. It is good for a person to be satisfied with his circumstances and enjoy friends, family, and leisure activities, but rather than rejoice in them he should keep the mind calm, serious, and thoughtful, in view of the fact that all these things must soon come to an end. Oh, how this thought could silence the voice of inappropriate laughter! It would produce calmness, serenity, and heavenly joy, where now there is often unholy behavior; and true peace, where now there is only forced and boisterous partying!
The question is: Are you going to let pleasure take the place of your relationship with God, as many do?
and they that buy, as though they possessed not;
Here the apostle speaks about worldly commerce and employment: Those that buy must be as though they possessed not. Those that prosper in business, increase in wealth, and purchase fine homes, should hold these possessions as though they held them not, because they are temporary and will in time disappear: “Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven” (Prov 23:5; KJV). Our minds should not be captivated by buying and possessing. They keep many people from God’s word, his service and his church. Purchasing land and trying oxen kept the guests who were invited to the wedding-supper from attending: “And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused…And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused” (Luke 14:18-19; KJV).
Of course, all of us are buyers of some sort; but Paul has in mind those that purchase estates, buy expensive houses and lands, and become proprietors of large tracts of land and numerous buildings. The apostle does not want these people to keep it all for themselves, but to hold it as if they did not hold it, parting with it for the benefit of others. They should think of themselves as stewards, and not properly owners, and know that in just a little time they must give it all up, and that there is One who will hold them accountable for how they used it and disposed of it.
Something to Think About
Men may have a deed that will secure their property from their fellow-men; but no man can have a title that will not be taken away by death. Our lands and houses, our stocks and bonds and mortgages, our goods and belongings, will soon pass into other hands. Other men will plough our fields, reap our harvests, work in our shops, stand at our counters, sit down at our firesides, eat on our tables, and lie upon our beds. Others will occupy our places in society, have our offices, and sit in our seats in the sanctuary. Others will take possession of our gold, and appropriate it to their own use; and we will have no more interest in it, and no more control over it, than our neighbor has now, and we will not have the power to eject the man that has taken possession of our houses and our lands. As secure as our titles are, as safe as are our investments are, yet we will soon lose all interest in them by our death; and how might this consideration induce us to live above the world, and to secure a treasure in that world where no thief approaches, and no moth corrupts.
The question that arises from this is: “Will you let your business take the place of God? Many a man has made business his god.”
31 And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.
And they that use this world, as not abusing it:
The world may be used, but it must not be abused. It is abused when it is not used for those purposes for which it was given, to honor God and do good to men—when, instead of leading us into obedience, it is made to feed our lust—when, instead of being a servant, it becomes our master, our idol, and it takes the place in our affections which should be reserved for God. And there is a great danger of abusing it in all these respects, if we love the world too much. We must keep the world out of our hearts, as much as it is within our power to do so, in order that we may not abuse it when we have it in our hands.
It is necessary for us to use the world, but we must use it properly; to furnish raiment, food, clothing, medicine, protection, etc. It is right to use the world, because it was made for these purposes. Those who have the privilege of owning an abundance of the things of this world, should use them in a reasonable and moderate manner; should not squander them away extravagantly, or spend them on their lusts, since that would be considered wasteful and abusive. The word translated using here refers to the lawful use of it.