What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on… those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away. (1 Corinthians 7:29,31)
It’s admittedly a somewhat strange passage. In it, Paul is instructing the church to live in light of the fact that current, earthly things are passing away. Even very important things like marriage are to be kept in their proper perspective, which is slightly below living out (and sharing) our faith in Christ. Radical concept I know!
Paul then appears to address a 21st Century audience in verse 31. For what generation before ours has had so many “things of the world” in which to become “engrossed?” Please notice that Paul doesn’t denounce “things” at all. In fact, the language Paul selected means to “take advantage” of the necessary things available. Scripture acknowledges that we need all kinds of things to survive in this world. Money, shelter, clothing, food, jobs, transportation, some technology, and so on. All necessary things which we need, and are to take advantage of.
The key, however, is to avoid becoming “engrossed” in these same things. Engrossed comes from a Greek word meaning to “overuse or abuse.” The same word is used to describe something that is used excessively to one’s detriment. We might say that what we are intended to consume, ends up consuming us. The user becomes the used.
Paul’s instruction? Remember that the things which enamor you will soon end up in a trash heap. You and your things are on opposite trajectories. You are headed to an eternity in heaven – your stuff is headed to the dump. Therefore, don’t get too attached!
The things of this world…are you consuming them, or are they consuming you? –Dave
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