1 Corinthians 7 (3)
Pray Psalm 25.4, 5.
Show me Your ways, O LORD;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
On You I wait all the day.
Sing Psalm 25.4, 5.
(Festal Song: Rise Up, O Men of God)
Make me to know Your ways, teach me Your paths, O LORD!
My Savior, all day long I wait and seek You in Your Word.
Read 1 Corinthians 7.1-24; meditate on verses 17-24.
1. What does Paul mean by “calling”?
2. What are we supposed to do in our calling?
Paul turns to address the matter of calling, that is, one’s station in life, that part of the world in which we live out our salvation. Each of us has a calling from the Lord (v. 17). In his commentary on this verse, Calvin notes that “everyone should be contented with his calling, and pursue it, instead of seeking to betake himself to anything else. A calling in Scripture means a lawful mode of life, for it has a relation to God as calling us…”
God calls us to repentance and faith while we are in a place or condition of life—our marital status, work, group of friends, all our relationships, roles, and responsibilities. He saves us and makes us His servants, right where we are. There is no need to seek another calling, for the one in which God called us to Himself is replete with opportunities to serve Him. In our calling we shake off all the old leaven, anything that yet binds us to worldly or fleshly ways, and we put on Jesus, to follow and serve Him in all we do.
The handbook for carrying out our calling is “the commandments of God” (v. 19). We can keep God’s Law wherever we are, whatever we’re doing, and this is the proof both that God has called us and that we are His. We must not seek to quit our calling but to enrich it with the new leaven of Jesus (vv. 20-22). God can move us to a new calling if He wills. But we must not say, “If only I had a different calling, a holier calling, then I could really serve the Lord.” Nonsense. We are saved, indwelled by the Spirit, invested with the Law of God (Ezek. 36.26, 27), appointed to be witnesses, translated into God’s Kingdom, and set as agents of His grace whatever our calling.
Jesus purchased us with His blood right where we are (v. 23). And right where we are—until He makes it clear otherwise—is where He intends us to put our bodies in motion serving and glorifying Him.
Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
In God’s economy and wisdom, He has made sure that all the Kingdom bases are covered. He has saved people in all walks of life and work. There is someone proclaiming the goodness, mercy, grace, forgiveness, and love of God in every sphere of life.
Of course, He can move around the pieces on His gameboard as He sees fit, to fill in gaps or enlarge a work, but for the most part, He tells us to “walk” where we have been “distributed” and “called” (1 Cor. 7.17). Always being aware that “keeping the commandments of God” is what matters most (1 Cor. 7.19). (Ergo, if we were busy doing nefarious and illegal things when saved, we can safely assume that a career change would be appropriate.)
Two things about the story of Naaman are pertinent to this conversation:
1. The young girl from the land of Israel, taken captive by the Syrians, and serving in the house of Naaman, was the voice of reason and salvation for him. She recommended that the prophet in Samaria could heal Naaman of his leprosy. She was a believer in Israel who was moved to a foreign country to share the good news of God with those people. We never hear that she was returned to Israel, only that she served God faithfully in Syria.
2. After Naaman was healed through Elisha, by God’s power, Naaman became a believer. His testimony?
“Indeed, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel…” But Naaman also knew that he needed to go back to Syria to serve his unbelieving master. His request to Elisha? “Yet in this thing may the LORD pardon your servant: when my master goes into the temple of Rimmon to worship there, and he leans on my hand, and I bow down in the temple of Rimmon—when I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the LORD please pardon your servant in this thing.” And what did Elisha say to this request?
“Go in peace” (2 Kgs. 5.1-19).
The servant girl’s testimony changed Naaman’s life and probably many others. And who knows how many lives were changed because of Naaman’s healing and testimony? We can only imagine, but my guess? One day we will meet many people in heaven who are there due to the work of these two believers: faithful in their spheres, in their time, in their Personal Mission Fields.
“Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2.10).
“Oh, love the LORD, all you His saints! For the LORD preserves the faithful…” (Ps. 31.23).
Faithfully walk where you have been called.
“You were bought at a price” for this purpose (1 Cor. 7.23).
1. How would you explain the idea of calling to a new believer?
2. How would you explain your own calling to that same new believer?
3. What can you do to improve your understanding of your calling and the work you do in fulfilling it?
Faith and the Christian life are so free in essence that they are bound to no particular order or estate of society, but they are to be found in and throughout all orders and estates. Therefore you need not accept or give up any particular estate in order to be saved. On the contrary, the estate in which faith and the gospel find you, there you may stay and find your salvation. Martin Luther (1483-1546), Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:17
Pray Psalm 25.16-22.
Ask the Lord for mercy and grace for all your times of need. Call on Him to cleanse you of all sin and to fill you with His Spirit for this day’s work. Let His Word be at work in you to transform you increasingly into the image of Jesus.
Sing Psalm 25.16-22.
(Festal Song: Rise Up, O Men of God)
Be gracious, LORD, to me; my heart is weighed with woe.
My troubles and affliction see; let my transgressions go.
Consider all my foes, who hate me all the day;
and rescue my poor soul lest I should stumble in the way.
Preserve me in Your way, redeem Your people, LORD!
We wait for You and refuge seek in Your own faithful Word.
T. M. and Susie Moore
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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter, available by clicking here.