Clarity of Expression

Ordinary Time
January 19, 2018

Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 7:29-31
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.

I follow the lectionary in writing these daily devotions because it challenges me to read scriptures to which I might not otherwise pay attention. Some, like the one above, leave me wondering what is, in this case, Paul trying to say? I consulted the NRSV commentary and found that the scripture is included with other suggestions (?) Paul has for the Corinthians and us too today, for how to live in the world but not of the world. Now the commentary did say that Paul left out some verbiage probably making it difficult to translate. Does he mean when he says let those who have wives be as though they had none that they should play the single man with other women or avoid intimate relationships with their wives? I will confess that I have reviewed some of my writing and in hindsight wondered what I meant by what I wrote. I hope that has not happened too often regarding anything that was read by others. One can see why strange interpretations can arise from Biblical texts at times though.

I say that only to caution us to search for deeper meanings when we come across something that is not clear at least to us. My final action in such instances is to determine whether my understanding of the text passes what I like to call the test of love. Does my interpretation of this scripture pass the test of love? Perhaps reading Paul’s description of love in 1 Corinthians 13 would guide such discernment.

Prayer: Lord, help us to communicate your word and your way so that they are blessings to others and not stumbling blocks. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.