‘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.’ 1 Corinthians 7:29–31
Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 19:3–12
When the apostle declares that ‘they that have wives be as though they had none,’ he does not teach us to despise the marriage state, but not to seek our heaven in it, nor let it hinder our serving the Lord. It is supposed that there are some things which a man without a wife and family can do—those things the man with a wife and family should do. It is supposed that a man without a wife can give his time to the cause of God: the man with a wife should do the same, and he will not find it difficult to do if God has blessed him with one who will second all his holy endeavours. It is supposed that a man without a wife has no care: a man with a wife should have none, for he should cast all his cares on God who cares for him. ‘If any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel;’ and yet the apostle says, in the verse following my text, ‘But I would have you without carefulness;’ for we should learn to live by faith. The man who has a large family, and many things to exercise his mind, should yet, through the teaching of the Holy Spirit, live as quietly and comfortably as though he had none, depending and resting by simple faith upon the providence and goodness of God. Then, again, it is supposed that an unmarried man will find it easier to die, for there will be none of that sorrow at leaving his beloved family: the man with a wife and family should, by faith, find it just as easy since the promise runs, ‘Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive; and let thy widows trust in me.’
For meditation: ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot’ (Luke 14:20) is not a good excuse to give to God. A godly wife can reduce worldly cares (Proverbs 31:10–11,25) and provide support in the Lord’s work (Acts 18:2,26; Romans 16:3–4; 1 Corinthians 9:5).
Sermon no. 481
23 November (1862)