1 Corinthians 7:17-24
But as God has distributed to every man, as the Lord has called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.…
In Christ there is neither bond nor free. It is not what they are with respect to man that is thought of, but what they are with respect to Christ. Thus considered, the servant is the Lord's free man, the free man is Christ's servant. The apostle speaks to the bond as free. The man who is called being a servant, may remain so. And then in some sense he is still the servant of his earthly master, and in some sense he is not so. His freedom consists in his being Christ's. That one thing, while it sets him free from the dominion of sin, and thus brings him into the glorious liberty of the children of God, changes the nature of that service which he pays to his earthly master, and gives the character of liberty to that also. For in reality he has but one master, i.e., the Lord; and the service which he now most dutifully renders to his master on earth, is but a part of the service which he pays to his Master in heaven. It may be still called service from the nature of the work, but it is freedom from the spirit in which it is done. As the servant of man, he once found his work drudgery, and did it unwillingly. But as the Lord's freeman, he finds it liberty, and does it with delight. He then served through fear. He now serves through love, and therefore performs every part of his duty better than ever he did. His joy is to approve himself to the Master whose he is, and whom he loves, as well as serves. His service is uniform, because Jesus is always the same, whatever be the changing humour of an earthly master. But now let us pass to him who has been called, being free. Of him it is said, Chat he is Christ's servant. He also is reminded that he has a master. In fact, he that is called being a servant, and he that is called being free, are both, after their calling, exactly in the same circumstances. Both are under the law to Christ, and neither of them under the law to man any further than the law of Christ permits. The servant, therefore, is bound no further than the superior will of Christ requires; and so far the free man, when he becomes the servant of Christ, is bound also. He is no longer his own. He has not himself only to please. He has talents committed to him, and he must employ them according to the will of Him who committed them. His time is not to be idled away, nor his health and strength wasted in frivolous employments, nor his substance squandered in selfish gratifications. And these, whether they be professional, or mercantile, or agricultural, are all appointed of God; and by them the servants of Christ, though they serve no one earthly master, serve the public at the command of their Master. Thus those who are not servants to men, are servants to Christ. They have to serve their generation by His will; and they have to receive the law from Him. And now let us endeavour to review the subject in as practical a manner as we may be enabled to do. We have already observed, that to be the servant of Christ, and to be the Lord's free man, are one and the same thing. Thus both were the servants of Christ, and both were free, because the service of both was a service of love. A service of love must be a free service, because it is childlike and willing, delighting to do what pleases him whose person is loved, as well as his authority owned. But whence arises this love which makes the servant of Christ thus affectionately dutiful, the free man of the Lord thus willingly laborious? It is faith. The servant of Christ can then only be satisfied when he is conscious of being where he is, and doing what he does, according to the will of Christ. Hence will arise two benefits.
1. It is obvious that this habitual reference to the will of his Lord will very much tend to give him assurance, and to prevent doubts concerning his state. And it is absolutely necessary to this end. It is impossible for a man to hope assuredly who lives negligently. They who habitually acknowledge Christ as a Master will also steadily hope in Him as a Saviour.
2. And as this spirit of obedience, which leads a man habitually to consider himself as Christ's servant, is the best evidence of that faith and interest in Christ with which salvation is connected, so it gives a nobleness to every station of life, and every work of man, which is thus conducted. The magistrate on his bench, or even the monarch on his throne, has the most exalted, as well as the most just views of his office, when he considers himself as the minister of God, as the servant of Jesus Christ.
3. Lastly, I may observe, that Christ is too good a Master to let His servants obey Him for nothing.
Parallel VersesKJV: But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.