“But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; 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 use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.” (1 Corinthians 7:29–31, AV)
When I was younger, I learned how to shoot a rifle. I was trained by an expert marksman and began competitive target shooting. Initially, I shot in four position matches where you fired 10 rounds from each position. When I went to college, we shot from three positions, prone, kneeling, and standing. The matches were timed thirty rounds in thirty-five minutes, which included the time needed to sight in the rifle. It seems like a long time, but it was not.
To shoot well required a set of skills. To simplify this, there were many, but the key ones were body position, proper breathing, squeezing the trigger, and most importantly the sight picture. After shooting in competition for years, I learned that success came by maintaining focus. Most of the skills became natural after a while. However, two things required focus. These were getting into the correct natural body position and the sight picture.
The point that I am making here has to do with focus to get the job done. Yet, it was very easy to lose focus. One way was to get your mind on something else, or be distracted by what the person next to you was doing on the firing line. Focus was essential. It is this way with everything one does.
Paul wrote in previous verses that it was better for a person to be single, if practical, than to marry, because they lived in times of “distress” (v25). In times of distress, the circumstances around us can cause us to lose our focus. Paul went on to say that in times of “distress,” things became even more difficult for those who were married and the added burden of family matters (v28). In the previous devotion we resolved that to negotiate troubled times we needed to be established on a solid foundation, which is Jesus and His word.
When situations cause us times of “distress,” we can often lose focus. When we do, we will struggle to negotiate our mission as believers. This is the point that Paul makes here when he says things like “they that have wives be as though they had none.” He is not saying that a man should divorce his wife or neglect his familial responsibilities. He is saying that the man should have an intensity of focus on his relationship with Christ and the calling to glorify God. He goes on to write, “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 use this world, as not abusing it.” In other words, believers must stay focused on the Lord and His will even though life will throw many distractions in their way.
In our world today, we have many of these types of distractions. Paul wrote that “the fashion of this world passeth away.” We must avoid allowing the temporal to get in the way of the eternal. Things are constantly changing around us and often not in a good way. It is in these trying times that we must be very focused on the Lord and His will. So, stay alert, be sober minded, stay steadfast in the faith, and firmly rooted in the truth. In doing so, by God’s grace you will negotiate these trying times well.