1Co 7:29-31 “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.”
It is wonderful to see Paul’s love and compassion for the church at Corinth, even with all the turmoil that was besetting them at the time of his writing. He is always careful to remind them that he considers them family (brethren) and he is giving his admonishment out of love and genuine concern. As he addresses them (and us) in this twenty-ninth verse, he assures that “the time is short.” Considering that First Corinthians was written over nineteen hundred years ago, it seems unlikely that he was warning about the end of time.
I believe Paul was speaking in reference to “the present distress” he mentioned in verse twenty-six. He is giving assurance that the present state of unrest and persecution they were facing would not last. Sometimes, when we are in the midst of a dark time, it is hard to realize that it will pass. We are tempted to surrender ourselves to our baser instincts rather than to trust God.
This is the attitude that Paul is warning against. He has given counsel in the previous verses that those who can remain unmarried and be faithful in the Lord’s service should do so, but those who were already married should not seek to dissolve that union. He is not contradicting himself here, but rather saying that even those that are married should make a concerted effort to spend more time in their service to God.
It would almost seem in the remaining verses under consideration that Paul is saying we should face life with a certain amount of indifference. However, when we look at Paul’s life and his great love and zeal for the things of God, we realize that is not the sense of his instruction. Rather, we are being instructed to not be overcome in our reaction to what is going on in the world around us.
While there are certainly many things in the world that cause us to mourn, we should not mourn (weep) as though God were not on His throne. If we have a season of good fortune, that should not consume us as being all that matters in our life. We should not hold on to possessions as being more precious than our service to God and His people.
Whatever our current condition in the world, we should not go overboard (abuse it). We should be zealous toward God and walk before Him in love. Whatever the present condition of this world, it is temporary. The fashion of the world (what is popular, what is acceptable, what is “in”) is going to continue to change as long as time stands. Only the things of God are unchangeable and unshakable.
May we be blessed to hold fast to Him and His ways above all else, regardless of the fashion of this world!