God’s people have always been an alternative to the existing world order. God revealed his blueprint for humanity with Abraham.
— Genesis 12.2-3 – “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.
“I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
God’s purpose is to bless his people, so they will bless the world around them. God’s people are a blessing when they reveal God’s way of life to others.
First Corinthians 7 presents a picture of what a God-blessed home looks like.
Women Have Rights
First-century men had all of the power, while women and children had none. Paul’s letters frequently challenged the male-dominated society.
— 1 Corinthians 7.1-6 – Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is well for a man not to touch a woman.”
But because of cases of sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.
The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband.
For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.
Do not deprive one another except perhaps by agreement for a set time, to devote yourselves to prayer, and then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
This I say by way of concession, not of command.
When Paul’s letter was read, the crowd would have been startled when they heard, “the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does” (verse 4).
First-century culture accepted the understanding that “the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does” (verse 4).
When people become followers of Jesus, he becomes the defining characteristic of their lives.
Paul wrote, “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3.28).
Race, social status, and gender differences are transformed through Jesus Christ.
The practical applications of this new relationship with God affected Jews and Gentiles, men and women, and slaves and free persons.
If both husband and wife are “one in Christ Jesus,” then the wife has rights in the marriage relationship.
God’s way is the blessed way.
When I conduct a marriage ceremony, I often ask the couple to play a game.
I ask the husband to try to out-give his wife. Then, I turn to the wife and say, “Don’t let him win. Out give him in love.”
Turning again to the husband I say, “Don’t you dare let your wife win. Out give her in love.”
Rather than demanding their individual rights, if both seek the best for the other they will have harmony and joy.
If both husband and wife play this game of love, they will have a legendary life of love and marriage.
Marriages like the one I am describing are rare. When a couple lives in this way, other people take notice.
Husband and wife will be blessed, and they will be a blessing to others.
Paul framed his message about marriage with a desire for people to remain single.
— Verse 1 – “It is well for a man not to touch a woman.”
— Verse 7 – I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has a particular gift from God, one having one kind and another a different kind.
Scholars believe that the first statement was a question that was posed to Paul from the church.
Paul clarified the question and told the church to be realistic about the sex drive in humans.
Celibacy is not for everyone. Paul wished for everyone to be able to have undivided attention to the Lord, as he did.
Some people may attempt celibacy, only to be tempted to immorality by Satan. It is better to marry in that case.
The Home in Corinth
What happened in the home touched many aspects of daily living in Corinth. Neighbors were very close and privacy was at a minimum.
The home was a shop or an office. Children, slaves, husbands, and wives all mingled in the home.
The poor lived in rickety apartment buildings, that were several stories high.
Paul wrote extensively about the home because it was the locus of blessing and witness for God’s people.
Home life today is quite different from Corinth. However, the way we conduct ourselves with family members will demonstrate the reality of our relationship with Jesus.
God’s desire is that we bless each other through self-giving love. This blessing will extend to those who witness the conduct of our families.
Prayer for Ukraine
Paul wrote, “So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6.9).
The war in Ukraine may go on for months or years. Thousands of combatants and civilians have already died.
Poland, surrounding nations, and Europe are serving three million refugees and the number grows exponentially every day.
Let’s not get weary in our prayer efforts for God to defeat the work of the devil in this conflict.
Life, not death . . .
Love, not hate . . .
Light, not darkness . . .
Is always God’s nature and agenda.
Let’s pray for God to achieve his agenda in Ukraine, Europe, the world.
Rudy Ross and I discuss this passage on YouTube today. Please visit us on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.
Please email your prayer request to firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.