20 February 2015

1 Corinthians 7:17-24

“However that may be, let each of you lead the life that the Lord has assigned, to which God called you.” (v. 17)

Psalm: Psalm 113


Paul's first letter to the church at Corinth was written in response to a request from members of one Corinthian household (that of Chloe - 1 Corinthians 1:11) to help sort out the divisions in their church. In the first part of the letter, chapters 1-6, Paul spends time condemning some of the practices in the church which are, frankly, un-Christian.

But it's clear that, in the letter that Chloe's household has sent, there are some specific questions that they want answering (1 Corinthians 7:1). So now Paul moves on to address these. Having given some advice to husbands, wives, and widows (and, being single, Paul acknowledges he is not the world's greatest expert on marriage - 1 Corinthians 7:6-7), he now moves on to another topic.

Paul wants to make it clear that we shouldn't think that by changing something in the circumstances of our lives makes us any closer to God. If we find ourselves in situations that simply are too difficult to change - because of family ties, or economic circumstances - then we should not be overly concerned. Elsewhere (Galatians 5:1-6) he sets out that what really matters is faith in Jesus working through love.

He points out that in all circumstances we can serve Christ; even slaves can transfer their loyalty so that they feel slaves of Christ (verses 22-23) - Christ himself bought them for a price far greater than any paid by a human master. (In Galatians 3:13-14 Paul speaks of Christ paying the redemption price to set people free.)

To Ponder

  • In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 Paul speaks of giving thanks in all circumstances. In what ways is this realistic or unrealistic?
  • Should Christians aim to 'better themselves'? Why or why not?
  • What difference do you think it should make to the circumstances of our lives when we become Christians?

Bible notes author

The Revd Neil Cockling

Neil spent 20 years as a circuit minister before becoming the District Development Enabler for the Newcastle upon Tyne Methodist District. He now works full-time for the NHS as a Consultant Lead Chaplain in mental health, leading a multi-faith team of 14 chaplains working in 10 hospitals in Northumberland and Tyne & Wear.