1 Corinthians 7:24
Brothers, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.
We are the subjects of two callings. There is our "high calling of God in Christ Jesus," that is the calling of grace; and there is our outward situation in life, that is the calling of Providence. In the text both these callings are mentioned, our temporal and our spiritual calling; and we are directed to abide in the same temporal calling, wherein we may be, when we are spiritually called. A Christian man is not to murmur or be fretful and restless in that situation which the providence of God has assigned to him, but to be patient, quiet, submissive, and cheerful in it. Grace, when it takes possession of a man, does not alter his place in society, nor annul the obligations that pertain to it, unless it be intrinsically wrong and sinful, requiring of him a course of action which is immoral and injurious. If that be its character, it is the devil's calling and not God's, and we cannot too promptly abandon it at whatever sacrifice. Now what I wish to impress upon you is that our temporal condition, with that peculiar form of life which it imposes, is a calling, and is such because God has called us into it. I would remind you that the fashion of our existence in this world is not an accident, not the fruit of chance, nor of our own will, nor of the will of other men. God has assigned us our place. Whether we shall work with our brains or our hands, and in which of the various departments of human activity that belong to either, He has determined. How important, indeed, is the truth which we express in the naming our work in this world our vocation, or which is the same, finding utterance in homelier Anglo-Saxon, our calling. What a calming, elevating, solemnising view of the tasks which we find ourselves set in this world to do, this word would give us if we did but realise it to the full. What a help is this thought to enable us to appreciate justly the dignity of our work, though it were far humbler work even in the eyes of men, than that of any one of us present! What an assistance in calming unsettled thoughts and desires, such as would make us wish to be something else than that which we are! What a source of confidence when we are tempted to lose heart, and to doubt whether we shall be able to carry through our work with any blessing or profit to ourselves or others l It is our vocation, our calling; and He who called us to it will fit us for it and strengthen us in it. That the circumstances which frame our outward condition into its actual fashion are of God's ordering, none will doubt, who believe in the presence and agency of God in the affairs of the world. Our parentage, the period of our birth, the associations of our childhood, the events that betide us in our early days, the influences that act upon us as we advance to manhood, all the causes that cooperate to fasten upon our life the form it finally and permanently assumes, are of God's ordering and fixing. And thus the whole sum of society, in all its complicated framework, its mutual relations and dependences, its necessary gradations and shares of honour and advantage, will appear to be a visible outgoing of the Divine will, instinct throughout with a Divine presence, a Divine authority, and a Divine blessing; and every member of the same, in his own proper station and work, his special "vocation and ministry," believing God made his place for him and him for his place, will be enabled to walk in it with God, without pride in elevation, with self-respect in inferiority, in a spirit of cheerful submission, conscientious fidelity, and lowly hope. What we contend for is that every Christian should believe himself called to every work in which he finds his occupation and his livelihood; and that, except he believes this, the work of life, whatever it may be outwardly, will be unholy and cheerless, lack its best stimulus and its purest support and comfort, and be pursued without confidence in God, or any expectation of high and worthy fruit. The rich man who is exempt from the necessity of relying on some trade or profession for a living, is not so exempt in order that he may be an idler. He also has a calling, and a calling has always a work, and the work of his calling is by no means the least arduous and difficult; and if, because he is not driven to it by the stern pressure of necessity, he leaves it undone, and dies a mere loiterer, his will be the fearful reckoning of one who wrapped not one but many talents in a napkin and hid them in the earth. This view of our work as a calling communicates dignity and comfort to life, and this not in some of its ranges, but in all of them. The precious ointment on the head goes down to the skirts of the garments. There is no valley in life so low that the dew of Divine service does not visit and refresh it. The honour of the noble head pervades the family, stops not at the favourite of the lord, or chief officer of the household, but goes on till it reaches the bottom of the social fabric; and the lowest menial shines in the reflected lustre of his Master. And surely there can be no debasement in filling any station which God has created and assigned to us. It is an honour to serve Him in any place. It is looking upon our lot in life apart from God, viewing ourselves as the sport of a blind chance, or the victim of human tyranny, caprice, or injustice, that makes us despise and scorn it, view it with a bitter contempt and an indignant hatred. Only let us look at it as our calling, the utterance of God's will, and the appointment of God's wisdom, and we shall respect it and ourselves in it; for we shall sea that we are parts of a system, in which it is an honour to hold any position, of a mechanism so glorious, that the cog of the smallest wheel, or the cord of the obscurest pulley that is needful to its well-being and well-working, is honoured by its function. Nothing has so elevating an influence on men as to feel that they are members of a Divine economy in which honour depends not upon place, but upon faithfulness; so that some who are far down in it, may be higher in the estimation of Him whose judgment is its only rule of eminence, than many that are outwardly above them, as sweet violets lie low and nestle in the sod, overhung and hidden by tall, thrifty, but idle weeds, and gaudy but scentless blossoms. But if this view of the work of life as a calling confers on life a dignity that relieves and gladdens it, so does it also load it with a weight of responsibility which communicates to it a tincture of seriousness and solemnity. Seeing that all stations are of God, it is indeed a grave and awful thing to live in any station. God does not ask at our hands volunteer services, but prescribed and ordered services; and if in the final reckoning we undertake to recite our performances of the former kind, we shall be cut short with the inquiry, Who hath required this at your hand? how did you fill your station? A soldier who is appointed to stand sentry will not escape censure if he has left his post to reconnoitre the enemy's camp, or capture a solitary straggler. Nor will a farmer be satisfied with his servant who leaves his field unploughed to instruct his neighbour in agricultural science. When every man does his own work, the specific service of his place, then is the welfare of society most advanced, God's will best done, the gospel best recommended, and the souls of men best fitted for eternal life.
(R. A. Hallam.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.