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Faith Alive! | Commandments of Christ 17

17. “Marry only in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7)

From issue 99 (May–August 2011)

SERVING God requires our utmost concentration and commitment. In 1 Corinthians 7:39 Paul is explaining that a woman who is married is ‘bound’ to her husband for as long as he is alive. However, she is at liberty to remarry if he dies. Paul is not trying to make widows feel guilty about wanting to remarry. He just wants them to serve God with as little distraction as possible, so that they can have constant and unhindered devotion to the Lord. The decision to get married has the same consequences for us all, whether single or previously married.


God instituted marriage (Genesis 2:22-24) in order to show the relationship between Christ and the Ecclesia (Ephesians 5:32). Marriage does not make you any more or less spiritual in the Lord’s sight. In fact, the liberty to marry or remain single reflects the freedom we have in Christ (see Galatians 5:1).

Divided loyalty?

However, married people can have their interests divided. For example, it might mean less opportunity for service than is available to the unmarried. As Paul says, those who are married worry about “how he may please his wife” or “how she may please her husband” (1 Corinthians 7:33,34). Being married is difficult enough, as we try to please our husband or wife. Imagine then trying to please a husband or wife who has no interest in God and does not share our own conviction and commitment to spiritual things. How much more will our interests be divided?

Paul describes the ability to remain unmarried as a gift from God (1 Corinthians 7:7), but recognises that many people do not have the moral strength to live a celibate life.

Being content

The biggest challenge we have is to be content at whatever stage we are at in our lives. Happiness is not having what you want, it is wanting what you have. Putting God first is more important than the love and companionship of marriage, of families, or of personal goals (Luke 14:26-33).

So do we consider our own life as of no account, so that we can finish the course and the ministry which we have received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the Gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24)?

“I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” (Philippians 4:11)

Are we content in being single? Are we content in being married? Both are acceptable to God. It is our commitment to Him that He looks for.

Faith Ashton


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