In 1 Corinthians 7:17, 20-24 we read, "Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches. Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him. Were you a slave when you were called? Don't let it trouble you'although if you can gain your freedom, do so. For he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord's freedman; similarly, he who was a free man when he was called is Christ's slave. You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. Brothers, each man, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation God called him to" (1 Corinthians 7:17, 20-24). I've always wondered how pertinent this passage is to modern-day believers, especially when making decisions about employment. With so many people talking about finding a job they "love," or one in which they find fulfillment, I've struggled with what seems to be an admonishment to be content with where you have been "called." How do you understand this passage and how it relates to our lives today? -- Java Bradley
I don't think this passage applies to one's job situation. I think rather Paul -- in the spirit of Philippians 4 -- is speaking of contentment. Sometimes we can be overeager to improve our situation. Yet Paul would be the last one to discourage someone from finding a job (2 Thessalonians 3:10!) -- assuming an unemployed person was brought to Christ. Nor would he discourage one from seeking promotion to a more difficult or responsible vocation (Colossians 3:23!)
Sometimes Christians strain very hard to discern God's will, rather than taking full responsibility for where they are. For more on this, please see Townsend and Cloud, Boundaries, and Garry Friesen, Decision Making and the Will of God.
The passage applies to us in that we too need to keep our priorities straight and our focus clear. Life is not about economics or marriage or politics. It is about a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
This article is copyrighted and is for private use and study only. © 2005. Reprints or public distribution is prohibited without the express consent of Douglas Jacoby.