Devotional Thoughts for This Morning
Lk. 14:17, 20 (NIV): “At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready’ . . . .  “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’”
1 Cor. 7:29, 32-34 (NIV): “From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none. . . .  I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord.  But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—  and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband.”
“Kyle” served at our church, then later became a youth pastor at another church and got married. I called him up, one day, in order to catch up; and when I asked about his present ministry, he said, “My present ministry is focusing on my wife.” Since the word ministry comes from the Greek word diakoneō, meaning to serve, Kyle certainly ought to love his wife (Eph. 5:28) and “treat [her] with respect” (1 Pet. 3:7).
Nevertheless, what he misunderstood was that while a good marriage/family is necessary for an authentic ministry (1 Tim. 3:4), it’s not sufficient to equate it with the ministry to the Body of Christ, which consists of believers who are uniquely gifted to “serve others” (1 Pet. 4:10). “Others” could be people in my church, neighborhood, or other nations, depending on God’s call at that particular moment. And when we fail to comply on account of marital or familial concerns, that’s tantamount to, “I just got married, so I can’t come.” At that juncture, regardless of how wonderful our marriage is, it becomes not being “concerned with the Lord’s affair.” And as we respond to God’s call, sometimes we might not be able to spend as much time with our spouse or family because we are ministering to others—and that could be what it means to live as if we had no wife or husband.
Now, God is neither against marriage nor romance. Once the work is finished, the Scripture says, “Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer (i.e., ministry done apart from your spouse). Then come together again” (1 Cor. 7:5). Though Paul didn’t use the romantic language of the “Song of Songs,” he meant it when he wrote: “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband” (7:3).
In 1997, I didn’t want to go to Uganda for 3 weeks because, among other reasons, I didn’t want to be separated from my wife and children. But I went because God called me to go. And it was during this trip that God planted a missionary vision, the one that my wife already had, which eventually led to our move to Mexico (2000), where my wife and I were rejuvenated both spiritually and mentally.
Dear God, thank You for my precious family whom I love dearly. Provide for them and protect them especially when I am not with them, as I may be away responding to the call in my life. As You lend your Son Christ on our behalf, I avail myself to You and Your cause to be part of what You are doing to redeem this fallen world. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 25
Lunch Break Study
Read Mk. 4:32-5 (NIV): “A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, ‘Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.’  ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.  Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers!  Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.’”
Jn. 18:26-7 (NIV): “When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son,’  and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.”
1 Tim. 3:4-5 (NIV): “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
Question to Consider
- In Christ, who becomes part of our primary relationship?
- Does that mean we disregard our physical families? What does Jesus’ action and Paul’s teaching suggest?
- What do you think God is calling you to participate these days or in foreseeable future? It may or may not be something that will take you away from your family. Think. Reflect. Pray about it.
- Christ teaches us that fellow believers, particularly those who seek to obey God’s will, become part of our primary relationships. And, “as we have opportunity, [we are to] do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Gal. 6:10).
- “All people” in Gal. 6:10 do not exclude our physical families. For example, before Jesus died, He wanted to make sure that his earthly mother was taken care of; Paul is adamant about providing for one’s own physical family; not doing so is tantamount to denying Christ. Again, it is an on-going balance act in which, too often, evangelicals err on the side of preferring marriage and family at the cost of serving God.
- For some, it is going on a vision trip, short-term missions, retreat; it could be ministering to a broken family or doing favors for the needy when you can spend that time with your wife or family. And in light of 1 Cor. 7:5, it could be praying by yourself apart from your spouse for a fixed duration.
Did you minister to your loved ones today, like praying with them, sharing God’s word, or by being kind? Did you do the same for those who are not part of your family? Review your day and pray.