1 Corinthians 7:20-24
Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.…
Christianity found slavery in existence. Proceeded upon wise lines for its extermination. Not by revolutionary violence. Worked from within rather than from without. Inculcated moral principles which, when fully realized and practically observed, involved the doom of slavery. Such passages as Matthew 7:12 are in point. Occasionally there is more direct attack, as in the condemnation of men stealers in 1 Timothy 1:10. What message had Christianity to the slaves? It said -
I. SERVE GOD AS YOU ARE. As a slave you may do a good and important work. Your condition has some special opportunities. It will be something for the world to see a pious, conscientious, faithful slave. This you can be, for with all shackles you may be "the Lord's freedman." A lesson for us. We often try to change our condition instead of glorifying God in it. All men seem to have fallen into the wrong places! For all men seem intensely anxious to change their condition. The powers, opportunities, time, of not a few are practically absorbed in this endeavour. And the craze is continuous. When the change is secured, another change is desired, and so on interminably. Men are used up in this insane struggle. It is not necessary to change our condition before we can do anything. The true way to the more favourable condition may be our glorifying God in the less favourable. The sterling piety of a slave became a strong protest against slavery itself. In various conditions the world needs to see the same faith and the same life. A man need care comparatively little about his external condition in this world, who is freed from the bondage of Satan and who tastes the liberty wherewith Christ makes his people free. That is nothing compared with this. No human shackles can bind the soul. The slave with all his bonds could not be hindered from coming to Christ. No one can stop us. Not all men. Not all devils, Not all adverse circumstances. We can come if we will, whoever or whatever we are or in whatsoever condition. The responsibility is upon our shoulders, None shall say at last that they could not come. God hath not permitted man so to bind his fellow that the journey to the cross is an impossibility.
II. IF YOU CAN OBTAIN YOUR FREEDOM BY RIGHTEOUS MEANS, DO SO. Not "do evil that good may come." But embrace any legitimate opportunity, for as a freedman you have generally more opportunities of service and less perils. When freed, you may make it more apparent, perhaps, that you are "Christ's bondservant." To us: seek a freer position when opportunity is presented, since in that you may more abundantly serve God. That is the object which you must ever have in mind. Let not the freer position be for self, but for God. A more comfortable condition is not always a more useful one. When we are taking off one shackle we may be putting on another. It may be a heavier one.
III. DO NOT BECOME SLAVES. It may be your duty to continue slaves, not to become such. This would be throwing away most important advantages. You are Christ's, bought with a price; have by choice no other bonds upon you than your Master's. To us: never seek a position in which service to Christ may be prejudiced, Here is a crucial test.
1. A rise in the social scale may impair our usefulness. The new house may tax our purse and check our charity, the numerous engagements our time, the atmosphere our piety, We may become "bondservants of men," and very miserable ones.
2. A more lucrative post may entail loss rather than gain - greater occupation of time, larger demands upon our strength, even the shortening of our lives. All such things come into the account.
3. The removal to a more pleasant place of residence may mean the arrest of Christian activity. People remove from where they are wanted to where nobody wants them. God places them in the field to labour, where there is much to be done, but they contract a fondness for mountain air and scenery, and off they go, leaving their appointed work to take care of itself. And when they get to the mountain of delights there is nothing for them to do but to grumble, and this, it must be acknowledged, they do with most unflagging zeal. Christians seem to think they are their own masters, and can come and go for little reason or for none, and without any reference to the great work to which every Christian is pledged, viz. seeking to extend the kingdom of Christ among men. "My Father's business" should be first with the disciple, as it was with his Lord. Instead of this, it is often practically lost sight of altogether, and people go without a thought or care from where the Father's business is urgent and almost overwhelming in imporlance, to where in comparison it can be prosecuted only upon a most limited scale. Men listen to the "call" of inclination, not to the "call" of God (note vers. 20, 24). We must ever beware of running into bonds, Many of these are golden. Not the less binding. In whatever circumstances we may be placed we must refuse to be such bondservants of men as to impair our relation to God. At all costs, in every condition, his will and glory must be supreme. - H.
Parallel VersesKJV: Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.