1 Cor. 7: 10 – 24
To the married I give this command – not I but the Lord – that the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does separate, let her remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife. To the rest I say – I and not the Lord – that if any believer has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. And if any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy through her husband. Otherwise, your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so; in such a case the brother or sister is not bound. It is to peace that God has called you. Wife, for all you know, you might save your husband. Husband, for all you know, you might save your wife.
However that may be, let each of you lead the life that the Lord has assigned, to which God called you. This is my rule in all the churches. Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing; but obeying the commandments of God is everything. Let each of you remain in the condition in which you were called. Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. Even if you can gain your freedom, make use of your present condition now more than ever. For whoever was called in the Lord as a slave is a freed person belonging to the Lord, just as whoever was free when called is a slave of Christ. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of human masters. In whatever condition you were called, brothers and sisters, there remain with God.
The portion of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians which we read today reminds us how our actions can affect the holiness of others.
When I was a child my brother, Sid and I would often be playing in the yard of our next-door neighbors, the Knutsens. Mr. Knutsen was often crotchety and irascible. He was like a Pharisee, always making note of when we did something wrong in his yard and he did not mind telling us. Mrs. Knutsen, on the other hand, was completely different. Their children were grown and lived far away so she adopted the Friend boys as surrogate grandchildren. Even when we had done something wrong, left our base ball equipment in their front yard or some such thing, Mrs. Knutsen continued to be kind and gracious. She was a loving and generous woman. I can remember one afternoon when we had been playing hide and seek in the Knutsen’s yard my brother and I were invited into their house by Mrs. Knutsen who had just baked a plate of cookies. As we left for home with cookies in both hands I think I said something like, “I wonder what we did to deserve this?” My older brother Sid, answered, “Mrs. Knutsen gives us cookies not because we’ve been good but because she is good.”
God’s grace is given to us not because we deserve it but because it is God’s nature to be gracious. Those who have felt God’s forgiveness understand this deep spiritual truth. May that grace which we have received allow us healing, wholeness and holiness so that we may reach out and share it with others.
Holy God, we seek to become holy but don’t know how. Grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit to surround ourselves with those who are holy that we might learn the ways of your kingdom and then spread abroad the love and peace which you have made known to us through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.