Saturday, April 27, 2024

Live As You Are Called (1 Corinthians 7:17-24)

"Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called" (1 Cor. 7:20).

We return today to our study of 1 Corinthians to find Paul exhorting the Corinthians to be content in whatever social, marital, or ethnic situation they were in when they became Christians. Paul’s point in these verses is two-fold. He wants believers to be content in whatever circumstance they might be in, and to understand that Christianity does not give them the right to break free from the social structures in which they find themselves. This, however, does not mean that Paul was opposed to self-improvement. This is evidently not the case because he explicitly encourages slaves (in v. 21) to become free if the opportunity is made available. But, his point is that the believer’s relation to Christ is compatible with any social relation or position. “It matters not whether they were circumcised or uncircumcised, bond or free, married to a Christian or married to a Gentile, their fellowship with Christ remained the same,” Hodge wrote. “Their conversion to Christianity involved, therefore, no necessity of breaking asunder their social ties. The Gospel was not a revolutionary, disorganizing element.”

The things that a Christian ought to be concerned about is conformity in the heart and life to the revealed will of God. As Paul said in other letters, what matters is not circumcision or social status, but faith working itself out in love, or in other words, keeping the commandments of God.

“In whatever station or condition a man is called, therein let him remain,” Hodge wrote. “This of course is not intended to prohibit a man’s endeavoring to better his condition. If he be a laborer when converted, he is not required always to remain a laborer. The meaning of the apostle evidently is, that no man should desire to change his status in life simply because he had become a Christian; as though he could not be a Christian and yet remain as he was. The Gospel is just as well suited to men in one vocation as in another, and its blessings can be enjoyed in all their fullness equally in any condition of life.” Our primary concern should be to obey God, to be slaves to His Word and not to men. In Christ, we are free from the controlling influences of men, yet slaves to righteousness, bond-servants of the Lord; and in the eyes of God, equal to one another in value and worth.

What are some other ways that people try to change their social status, marital or family ties when they become a Christian? How do people try to use Christianity as an excuse to get out of difficult situations? How would you advise someone who is struggling with being content in a difficult circumstance? (Read verses below.)