1 Corinthians 7:31
And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passes away.
(Election sermon): —
1. It is the duty of a Christian, so long as he is a citizen of this world, to take a part in its concerns. "I pray not that Thou shouldst take them out of the world," &c. (1 Corinthians 5:10). How can salt season, or yeast leaven, if it do not come in contact with that which it is to season or to raise?
2. Christ was removed above all the conventionalities and systems of this world; and yet He conformed to them all. He touched on the political questions; He had teachings about Church and State, and gave His authority to the great principle of taxation. And yet how heavenly the tone of every word and act!
I. THE BELIEVER "USES" THE WORLD, which conveys the ideas of —
1. Elevation. What I "use," I am above. It is the implement I employ, and not the power I obey. That is just what the world is to a Christian.
2. Intention. What I "use" is never final. It is to work up to an end. Say it is an amusement I use it, it is to fit me for something I have yet to do. Say it is money, it is that I may have greater power to do good. Say it is influence, it is that I may the better extend truth. Say it is public life, it is that I may throw weight into the side of good. Or say it is the whole world, it is with an eye to eternity, to make myself or others ready, for a higher state that is coming.
II. WHAT, THEN, IS IT TO "ABUSE"?
1. If the world rule you, and you do not rule it — if you do not keep it within fixed bounds which your own conscience lays down — if you have not a further end in every natural thing beyond the immediate gratification — if that end is not worthy — then you are abusing the world.
2. If it separate you from Him to whom this whole world belongs, or if you use any part of it for any other end but the glory of the great Proprietor, you abuse the world.Conclusion: Now for present duty. In this representative country every man both legislates and governs. Therefore, it is no simple thing to exercise the franchise.
1. You will "abuse" and not "use" the power which the law has given you if you do not accept it as a solemn trust which has been committed to you by God, to be exercised for Him. Great things are at stake, and in your degree God has made you the arbiter of them. Therefore —
(1) Discharge the duty calmly, according to your real conviction, bringing the best reflection you can to bear upon it, as before God.
(2) Pray for a right judgment in this matter.
(3) This done, it will help your decision, as to what line of policy will best promote the great ends that all have in view. Assuredly, the religious aspect of every subject ought to be the first considered. Therefore, regard should certainly be had to the religious character of the man whom you would entrust with power. He who would put first the glory of God, cannot rest in devolving high trust to one who has no such aim.
2. Let all be done with charity of judgment. Let no personal feeling embitter a great work. And then, whatever be the result, accept it as the will of God to you. And though the course of events may run counter with your wishes, still honour God by taking loving views of man, and trusting views of the future. And be they what they may, be loyal to the powers that be.
(J. Vaughan, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.