Our epistle reading this week is 1 Corinthians 7:29-31.

This is what I’m saying, brothers and sisters: The time has drawn short. From now on, those who have wives should be like people who don’t have them. Those who are sad should be like people who aren’t crying. Those who are happy should be like people who aren’t happy. Those who buy something should be like people who don’t have possessions. Those who use the world should be like people who aren’t preoccupied with it, because this world in its present form is passing away.

This short passage brings us in at the middle of Paul’s instruction regarding relationships, possessions and the return of Christ. It’s a little difficult to understand his whole teaching from these few verses, which is a warning to us not to take the wrong meaning from a section lifted from scripture out of context. We need to know the whole story.

Paul is telling us that none of the things we encounter here on earth compare with joy we will know when Jesus comes in His glory. He is not recommending we shirk our responsibility in our relationships or dealings with one another, merely that these pale in comparison to our responsibility and relationship to Christ. We must put our lives here in perspective with the promise of eternity.

Paul wants us to focus on the gift of salvation we have received and not be distracted by earthly joy or sorrow. He reminds us that everything we know here is temporary and none of it will follow us to eternal life. We are called to live in expectation of His coming, ready to receive the everlasting blessing God has prepared for us.

Loving Lord, we are thankful for all the gifts we receive, none more precious than Your coming to save us. Help us to live in the truth of Your word, ready to accept the responsibility of a relationship with You. Amen.

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