??1 Corinthians? ?7:32-34? ?ESV??
“I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband.”
When a man or woman is married, that relationship naturally impacts their emotions, interests, and anxieties. A husband and wife should be concerned with each other. It will impact the depth of their commitment and flexibility in following Christ and fulfilling the great commission.
Paul’s advice here is not a command from God. He makes that very clear. However it is advice to those who are single. If you are serious about pursuing the things of God and being undivided in allegiance to the mission of Jesus, stay single. However, if you are married, your marriage will and should be a strong commitment to your spouse that impacts your emotions, interests and anxieties. Marriages will impact one’s level of commitment to the mission of Christ.
I have heard so many people say God first, spouse second, kids third and so one and so on. Paul’s description here is slightly different and I believe more realistic. When you are a family man you have already committed your life to serve and please your spouse. Putting God first is not as black and white when you are already committed to a spouse. It isn’t that you are forced to obey your spouse ovet God, it’s just that you aren’t obeying Him alone. You are united with another person and the call of God is to obey together. This makes decision making more complex and many times hinders someone’s flexibility. In marriag, in order to honor your spouse, you must learn to lead and wait for them to grasp, understand and be on board before decisions are made. When one is single, this step is non-existent.
Couple action steps-
1. Paint a more realistic picture of married life pursuing Jesus. Be honest that it is many times a struggle to be a highly effective missional couple because being on the same page takes committed work.
2. Share the importance of this in premarital counseling and ensure the spiritual speeds of each other are kept in account.
3. Don’t treat single people like they are missing out. Instead treat them as the most flexible, mobile, and useful kingdom members in the body.
4. Honor marriage and singleness alike.
God thank you for these frank words on marriage. Being a mission minded married couple is difficult but not impossible. Help me be sensitive to my wife’s needs and desires and not run them over for the sake of “mission”. Also let me lead my wife to love Jesus and to model servanthood.