Christians Gathered and Sharing Theirs Lives Together

A daily devotion for April 19th

Two Gifts

Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. I say this as a concession, not as a command. I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.

1 Corinthians 7:5-7

So important is sex to marriage that Paul says that it takes precedence over everything else in your life except an occasional spiritual retreat for prayer. If you are going to do this, it has to be a mutual thing. You must not give up or deny your partner the right to this kind of enjoyment. To unilaterally take action to refuse to involve yourself in a sexual union in marriage is to violate this very command of God, and to hurt the marriage very severely.

I could fill that in with many experiences taken from real life. As always, the Scriptures examine us at the deepest level of our being, and here Paul puts his finger on what is one of the most frequent causes for disaster in marriage — a refusal to grant the gift of enjoyment and pleasure to one's mate. He says, Don't do that, with one possible exception. If you both agree to do so, and if you do so for a brief season, and you do so for a spiritual reason, i.e., to have more time for working out a special problem in prayer, then it is all right. But it can be such a destructive thing in marriage that Paul says, Be careful. Don't continue it very long, and by all means come together again, lest Satan be given an advantage over you.

He goes on to say that he says this as a concession, not a command. In other words, sex in marriage manifests a special gift of God. Marriage itself is a gift from God, just as singleness is, and some have one gift and some another. What he is saying is, Marriage is not for all. Paul himself glories in being single, but both states, singleness and marriage, are a gift from God, and sexuality in marriage reflects something about God. It illustrates that uniqueness of relationship within the Trinity, and, as we are told in Ephesians 5, between the Lord and his people. It illustrates a oneness of spirit that can only be manifested when two human beings, weak and struggling and failing in many ways, nevertheless learn to live together and love one another despite the problems and the heartaches they experience.

On the other hand, singleness without sex reflects another beauty of God. It permits a quality of dedication to a single goal that is often highly admired by everyone around. We all know people like this who have never married, who have given themselves to achieve a certain goal in life. This too illustrates something about God. So these states of life are gifts from God and we must view them as such, and marriage no less than singleness.

Thank you, Lord, for the gift you give to some of marriage, and to others of being single. May I faithfully live out your calling for me. Amen.

Life Application

Do I recognize that both marriage and singleness are gifts from God? Am I living out my own calling with gratitude and generosity?

This Daily Devotion was Inspired by one of Ray's Messages

Sex in Marriage

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