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Keep focused. 1 Corinthians 7.32-35

1 Corinthians 7 (5)

Pray Psalm 38.9-12.
Lord, all my desire is before You;
And my sighing is not hidden from You.
My heart pants, my strength fails me;
As for the light of my eyes, it also has gone from me.
My loved ones and my friends stand aloof from my plague,
And my relatives stand afar off.π
Those also who seek my life lay snares for me;
Those who seek my hurt speak of destruction,
And plan deception all the day long.

Sing Psalm 38.9-12.
(Leoni: The God of Abraham Praise)
You know all my desire, my sighs You know full well.
My strength fails and light’s holy fire my eyes dispel.
My friends and loved ones fail; the wicked do me wrong.
My life they seek, my soul assail the whole day long.

Read 1 Corinthians 7.1-35; meditate on verses 32-35.


1. What did Paul want for all these people?

2. What danger did they face?

Again, we can understand Paul’s teaching here if we start at the end: What did Paul want for these folks?

He was not proposing absolute conditions or trying to control their behavior or “put a leash” on them. He was guiding them into the kind of conduct that is profitable and proper for every believer, that they (and we) should “serve the Lord without distraction” (v. 35). That, after all, is the essence of what it means to fulfill our calling from the Lord, no matter the state or condition of our lives.

Marriage has its share of situations and responsibilities that could distract us from our calling (vv. 33, 34). But that need not be so. Paul offers a caution here: Be aware that marriage can open the door to all kinds of worldly distractions—money, children, managing a home, providing for a family, resolving conflicts. But these need not be distractions if we can remember that marriage is what God has called us to, and all these aspects of marriage—and more—are only arenas for fulfilling our calling.

But, while the unmarried may not have the same distractions as married folk, and thus would seem to be in a better position to serve the Lord, let them not be deceived. The people Paul addressed in verse 35, to profit them in their proper walk with and work for the Lord, had distractions of their own. Paul is telling it “slant” here, holding out caveats to the married and unmarried alike that they must not allow anything to distract them from their calling to serve the Lord. Rather, they must make the most of all their time and opportunities for serving the Lord without distraction whatever their calling.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
There is great joy, peace, contentment, and fulfillment in knowing and embracing our Personal Mission Field.

Living fully within those boundaries, we can always “serve the Lord without distraction” (1 Cor. 7.35), regardless of our station in life. Whether we are married, a parent, a brain surgeon, a garbage collector, a teacher, pastor, or clerk (and a zillion and one other possibilities), we belong to God and have been bought at a great price (1 Cor. 7.23) to do the good works that God has prepared for us to do before we were ever born (Eph. 2.10).

As we frequently note, the work we’ve been given to do is greater than the job at which we work. When we are convinced that this is true, and embrace our Kingdom work, whatever it happens to be, with obedience to God’s Law and trust in His guidance and mercy, we will happily accomplish His goals and plans for us “without care” (1 Cor. 7.32).

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jer. 29.11 NIV).

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct—make smooth or straight—your paths” (Prov. 3.5, 6).

It takes all kinds of people, in all walks of life, to flesh out the Christian world.
Happily, we are all necessary and individually significant in this Kingdom work.
If you are not working your field, there will be a gaping hole that no one else can fill.

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments,
for this is man’s all” (Eccl. 12.13), and “serve the Lord” (1 Cor. 7.35).

As Martin Luther wrote in 1529:
“The Spirit and the gifts are ours
through Him Who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go,
this mortal life also;
the body they may kill:
God’s truth abideth still;
His Kingdom is forever.”

For reflection
1. How can you know when you are being distracted from your calling to the Kingdom and glory of God? What should you do then?

2. How can we as believers help each other to stay focused on our calling and faithful in our work?

3. Have you mapped out your Personal Mission Field? If not, click here to watch a brief video and download the Personal Mission Field worksheet.

As to all worldly concerns; they must keep the world out of their hearts, that they may not abuse it when they have it in their hands. All worldly things are show; nothing solid. All will be quickly gone. Wise concern about worldly interests is a duty; but to be full of care, to have anxious and perplexing care, is a sin. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7.32-35

Pray Psalm 38.17-22.
Ask the Lord to search your soul, to discover any distractions that are keeping you from fulfilling your calling. These might include neglect of prayer, fear of men, poor use of time, or not walking circumspectly. Confess any distractions and commit to a closer walk with the Lord in all your ways.

Sing Psalm 38.17-22.
(Leoni: The God of Abraham Praise)
My sins I now confess; my anxious soul relieve!
Though foes are strong, LORD, heal and bless all who believe!
Forsake me not, O LORD! Repay my foes with wrath.
Stand by me with Your saving Word and guard my path!

T. M. and Susie Moore

The Church in Corinth was in need of revival. But there was much to be done before that would happen. The Church today is in need of revival, and the same is true for us. Our book, Revived!, can help us to discern our need for revival and lead us in getting there. Order your copy by clicking here.

Support for Scriptorium comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.

And please prayerfully consider supporting The Fellowship of Ailbe with your prayers and gifts. You can contribute online, via PayPal or Anedot, or by sending a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 103 Reynolds Lane, West Grove, PA 19390.

Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalteravailable by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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