1 Corinthians 7:25-31
Now concerning virgins, I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. I think that, in view of the impending crisis, it is well for you to remain as you are. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. But if you marry, you do not sin, and if a virgin marries, she does not sin. Yet those who marry will experience distress in this life, and I would spare you that. I mean, brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown short; from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no possessions, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.
Psalm 45:11-12, 14-17
Hear, O daughter, consider and incline your ear;
forget your people and your father’s house,
and the king will desire your beauty.
Since he is your lord, bow to him;
The princess is decked in her chamber with gold-woven robes;
in many-colored robes she is led to the king;
behind her the virgins, her companions, follow.
With joy and gladness they are led along
as they enter the palace of the king.
In the place of ancestors you, O king, shall have sons;
you will make them princes in all the earth.
Then he looked up at his disciples and said:
“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
“Blessed are you who are hungry now,
for you will be filled.
“Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.
“But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.
“Woe to you who are full now,
for you will be hungry.
“Woe to you who are laughing now,
for you will mourn and weep.
“Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.
Have you ever tried to explain the concept of “not now, later” to a very small child? Those who have (or who remember what it was like being the child) know it often does not go well. To the child, the only moment is this moment, and not having what they want in the moment is almost like saying they will never get it. It takes maturity and perspective to understand that the momentary wants we suffer will pass, that the delay of gratification will be worth it, and that there are things greater than ourselves such that our deferred wants are not the most important thing in the world.
Still, as mature people with perspective, we ever have more room to grow into spiritually mature people with eternal perspective, as our scriptures remind us today. If our worldview is still only worldly, we’re little better than the small child who can’t quite understand “not now”. While we can see beyond the next moment, we may not be able to see beyond this life and this world, which may as well be only a moment on the eternal time scale.
And if, in this moment of life, we suffer want, or we have not reached our goals in life for our careers or for marriage, or for other accomplishments, we may feel discouraged. If we look at the state of the world, at the injustices and the wrongdoing and the misunderstanding, we may feel discouraged. But the scriptures remind us to look up from these circumstances, to find grace and seek God in them. These opportunities for discouragement, when we realize we are in the “not now” are opportunities for God to meet us in our want and for us to strive for the kingdom that does not pass away.
But what if, in this moment of life, all seems to be well? If we focus on the good and the progress in the world, and are feeling self-satisfied? Paul reminds us that there is nothing wrong with rejoicing, or buying, or marrying, or having reached goals concerning our life in the world. But he calls us to live as though these things are soon to pass. And in the Beatitudes, Jesus warns us that if we rely only on the things of “here” and “now”, we will only have woe when they pass.
Today, am I living in the “now” or in the “not now”? Where am I feeling satisfaction in my life? And where am I feeling want? In both cases, am I looking to God to meet me there, and looking beyond to where God may lead me next? Let’s bring these questions to Jesus today, and ask Him to lead us into greater blessing.
Prayer: Jesus, I give you my life, my circumstances, and my dreams today. In my sorrows and wants, help me to seek not worldly and temporal relief, but the consolation of Your grace and the rewards of Your kingdom. And where I am feeling full and secure, help me still to seek and trust you rather than to be self-seeking and self-satisfied. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done.