Humanity lives with a permanent unfulfillment. Usually this situation bothers people and they are looking continuously for a change. God sent Jesus Christ and the Gospel on the earth to bring an interior transformation– the change of the hearts of people, not the change of the outside situations. Christians that do not understand this, sentence themselves to a permanent dissatisfaction, unfulfillment and anxiety. These situations become more pronounced now, than then, when they were without Christ. If you are looking for fulfillment in the change of the outside conditions, then you can not rejoice fully of your relationship with Jesus Christ. In this article I would like to write what the Bible teaches us about being thankful of the condition in which we have been called by Jesus Christ. The passage that speaks about this is the first Epistle of Paul to Corinthians 7:17–24:
Only, as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God has called each, in this manner let him walk And so I direct in all the churches. Was any man called when he was already circumcised? He is not to become uncircumcised. Has anyone been called in uncircumcision? He is not to be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God. Each man must remain in that condition in which he was called. Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that. For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord’s freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ’s slave. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. Brethren, each one is to remain with God in that condition in which he was called. (1 Corinthians 7:17–24)
This passage shows two outside conditions of every man – the religious condition and the social condition. Chapter 7 from 1 Corinthians speaks a lot about the marital or conjugal condition, that’s why we are going to see what the Scripture teaches us about this. And we will learn about one more condition, that influences a lot of people to be displeased – the financial condition, So, let us see what the Scripture tells us about each of these condition:
Be content with your religious condition
In this passage apostle Paul refers to a specific exemple – circumcision. This is a symbol of those who were obedient to the law of Moses, that is Judaism. This was the sign of the covenant which God made with Abraham and its meaning was to keep God’s commandments. As the time passed, people changed its meaning and made a virtue from being circumcised. The same thing happens today with the Lord’s Supper, which was designed by Jesus Christ as a reminder for those who entered in the covenant with Him through faith. Today there are a lot of people, who never entered in a covenant with Jesus Christ, they don’t keep this covenant, but come to take the Lord’s Supper, thinking that wine and bread contain something magic within them and that they can forgive these people’s sins, can heal them or at least this will make them seem “being as the others”. While the New Testament was written, the circumcision was still a thing to make you be accepted or rejected by some circles. But God doesn’t want us to earn for a comfortable religious condition. He wants us to put priority on our inner condition and on the relationship that we have got with Him. In his epistle to Philippians Apostle Paul writes that he was the one who had such a religious condition that helped him to be well known in the religious circle from that time, but this brought him neither content nor fulfillment. That’s why he wrote that all those advantages are as a rubbish. But let us read his own words. He wrote these words in a context when some Christians were imposed to practise circumcision.
Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you. Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision; for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh, although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless. But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith (Plilippians 3:1–9)
Apostle Paul was looking for the transformation of his interior condition, as he writes further:
That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:10–12)
Being content with your religious condition means that you don’t look for a specific posture before the people from your church or from the religious community which you attend. This brings fulfillment neither to you nor to people. Don’t mix up having a posture with serving. Some people think that their leading posture can be owed to their personal performances. Other know that this is a responsability and it is the place where they can serve people more efficiently. What is your personal religious condition? A performance or a responsability to serve to others?
Be content with your social condition
The New Testament was written in the first century AD, when slavery was a section of the people in the Roman Empire. The slaves had no rights, only duties and that was the lowest section of people. Some of them believed in Jesus Christ and received the gift of eternal life. Apostle Paul speaks to them when he writes:
Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it. (1 Corinthians 7:21)
Then, he puts down a reason why the slaves have to be content with the condition in which they are. He writes:
For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord’s freedman (1 Corinthians 7:22)
Since one entered in the covenant with Jesus Christ, he is set free from the most terrible and cruel slavery – the slavery of sin. At the same time, everyone who entered this covenant, no matter what social condition he has, receives a new posture, that of a child of God and an heir of the eternal promises. That is why no one has to be bothered so much of his social condition, but, as Paul writes: “if you are able to becoma free, rather do that”. A good example is the national holiday that our nation celebrates on the 27th of August – The Independence Day of Republic of Moldova. Our country was supressed a lot and since 1812 we have been treated as slaves disdainfully. During the Soviet Union occupation no one could even dream of independence. When putsch from Moscow took place on the 22nd of August 1991, wise men who were leading our country, took advantage of this unique opportunity and declared the independence of our country. It became possible for us to be set free and we have used it. One more important advice Paul gives when he writes:
You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. (1 Corinthians 7:23)
There are a lot of Christians who make hasty decisions and promises and soon become others slaves. A lot of them do this because they are not looking for the advice from the Word of God or from wise men. In the old times, someone borrowed something and having no money to pay back, he was selling himself as a slave.
Once I was invited in Pakistan by the priests of the city Sahival to teach them the inductive method of Bible study. On my way from Lahore to that city, I saw many factories, if we can call them this way, where people were making bricks. My companion told me that these people are slaves and he explained me how they became this way. Let us imagine that the wife of a man was ill. The husband of that woman was going to the owner of such a factory and was borrowing 3000 rupee so that he can buy the necessary medicines. The owner was asking him to sign an agreement, which the man couldn’t read because he didn’t know how and only after this, the owner was going to lend him money. That agreement usually had such conditions that if the man doesn’t give back the money during a month, then he was obliged to give back 200% monthly of the money he received. If he couldn’t give back that money, then he was enslaved and he had to work for his “benefactor” until he was able to pay him back, and that means never… His salary was very little. In the agreement was added that his children also have to work further, so that they may give back his debts. I don’t know how well it is seen in the picture, but near them there is a bed or something that looks like it. And it was very hot outside. My companion told me that these men that became slaves because thay were not attentive, had nothing, neither a house nor anything else. All their life they work in the field and make bricks. There their children are born, grow and continue to work as slaves after their parents’ death. Apostle Paul tells us to be aware of such kind of slavery and not to be the slaves of men. Think of how many Christians sell themselves as slaves or a situation that is near to that, because they make wrong decisions. You don’t have to be as one of these. Beware at every decision that you make and at every word that you say. And be also attentive to borrowing money.
Be content with your marital condition
This is the most important subject of 1 Corinthians, chapter 7. Apostle Paul analises different situations, but at the same time he wants to make people understand how important it is to be content with the marital condition of each of them. After teaching the married on their duty of a husband/wife – that of offering sexual fulfillment to the partner, apostle says:
But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. (1 Corinthians 7:8–9)
These verses teach us not to look for fulfillment in the change of our marital condition. The one who doesn’t know to be content when he is unmarried, is going to meet the same dissatisfaction after he gets married.That is way, the Apostle, tells:
Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife? Do not seek a wife. (1 Corinthians 7:27)
When you learn to find delight and pleasure in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, then you will be able to rejoice of your partner and not to loose heart while you are unmarried or even if you don’t ever marry. A lot of Christians are unhappy in their relationship with Jesus Christ for the reason that they are too concerned about the change of their marital condition, that is, anyway impossible to be changed according their will. Don’t be such a Christian. Find fulfillment in your relationship with God.
Be content with your financial condition
Even if Apostle Paul doesn’t speak about this outside condition of the life of a Christian in chapter 7, I have decided to explain it according the Epistle of Paul to Philippians, so that we can see how important it is to be content with our financial condition. While writing the Epistle to Philippians, apostle Paul was “in chains” in Rome, in “Caesar’s house”, as he himself says this in the epistle. After he had received a material support from the Christians from Philipi, through Epaphroditus “their messenger and minister to Paul’s needs”, the apostle sends Epaphroditus back to them and gives them the epistle, where is written this passage:
But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. (Philippians 4:10)
After this, Paul, through his testimony presents in a nice way a contrast between his finacial condition and his interior condition, that of his heart. He says:
Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. (Philippians 4:11–12)
His heart was full of a permanent content, even if outside the things were constantly changing, from an extremity to another, from plenty to deficiency, from hunger to being fill, etc. The apostle tells us the secret of this condition, he says:
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)
Here Paul doesn’t say that he is an enemy to a good financial condition or that he teaches to choose poverty. The key here is his personal example that shows us to have such a condition of our heart that can not be affected by the financial condition, no matter what it is.
Beloved, only those who have their heart full of joy from their intimate relation with Jesus Chirst, can become content with their religious, social, marital, financial and any other condition. You can experience this relation with Christ only when you search to know Him in a personal way, as Paul says:
That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:10–12)
How much do you study the Bible? And what is your motivation while you study it? Do you study it because you have to do this, because other do this, because your church does this? It is good to study, but this motivation is not sufficient. Study the Scriptures to know Christ in a personal way, so that His image may dwell in you and His face may be seen on yours!.
Translated by Djugostran Felicia