1 Corinthians 7:24
Brothers, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.
The apostle, in this and the connected chapters, is giving to the Corinthian Christians a variety of counsels respecting the various relationships of life which they were called to sustain. The gospel of Jesus Christ, which brings its influence first to bear on the individual, next exerts its power on the family and social relations; and we can well understand how, in those early days, a number of serious practical questions would arise and demand consideration. One of these questions concerned the condition of servitude, serfdom, in which many of the early converts were placed. The apostle points out that personal religion is independent of calling or of social position. Whatever our earthly lot may be, we can be truly godly as we fulfil it; and St. Paul recommends that every one should continue in the business which he happened to be pursuing when the grace of God came to him, provided it was an honest and honourable business. His one counsel is that, whatever may be their place or their work, they should therein abide with God, in fellowship with God, in obedience to the will of God, in openness to the leadings of the Spirit of God, and in reliance upon the daily strength of God. Regarding the text in this light, it may direct us to consider the practical influence of Christianity on a man's business. We dwell on three points.
1. Religion is above business.
2. Religion comes into business.
3. Religion must not be lost in business.
I. RELIGION IS ABOVE BUSINESS. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness." "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"
1. Religion is above business in its character. Its interests are different; its aims are different; its prevailing spirit is different and nobler. It is the heavenly occupation and the heavenly spirit.
2. Religion is above business in its demands. Business calls for the exercise of mind and skill; it asks the culture of our bodily powers - it develops skill of hand, promptness of judgment, keenness of insight, and perseverance in effort. It goes even further than this, and calls out certain moral qualities, the more simple and natural qualities, such as honesty, integrity, diligence, and truthfulness. But religion demands more, even purity, unselfishness, a fine consideration for the well being of others, rightness of motive, and the inspiration of a supreme purpose to glorify God. Business does not touch the affections. Yet we are only cold, grasping, self seeking creatures, if life and conduct are not toned by affections; and the religion which purifies and nourishes our affections must be above business.
3. Religion is above business in its issues. Business results are a certain measure of worldly comfort in our home, a share of the pleasures which the world can afford, and a position of respect and influence among our fellow men. What more than this can the most successful business bring? It wins nothing that can go through the "great gates" with us. Its issues have rather to do with quantity than with quality; they are bounded by life, and have no out teachings into eternity. Religion is above it, since "godliness hath both the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." Religion shines down on common life all the golden rays that make the beauty of the present prospect, and it assures us that all it can shed now are but a few scattered rays of an "exceeding and eternal weight of glory," which will shine forever on the "good and faithful servants."
II. RELIGION COMES DOWN INTO BUSINESS. Because it is higher than business, it claims to take it up into its grasp and glorify it, breathing its own noble spirit into all business relations. Some men do not hesitate to say that religion and business occupy separate spheres. Ward Beecher says, "How hateful is that religion which says, 'Business is business, and politics are politics, and religion is religion'! Religion is using everything for God. But many men dedicate business to the devil, and shove religion into the cracks and crevices of time, and make it the hypocritical outcrawling of their leisure and laziness."
1. Religion comes into business as a new force, nourishing diligence. William Jay used to say that Christian tradesmen ought to be the best tradesmen, and Christian servants should be the best servants, and he would sometimes quaintly add, "There's many a good woman who is not a good washer woman.'
2. Religion comes as a Divine help in bearing disappointment and loss. Many by the troubles of business life are made reckless and bard. It is a great tiring that religion, in a world where "man is born to trouble," should help us to suffer well.
3. Religion comes into business to elevate our standards of honesty and uprightness. We need not affirm that integrity is only connected with religion; but we may fully admit that the high standards are maintained by religion, and that it stands foremost among the forces that preserve business morality.
4. And religion comes into business as a spirit attempering business relations. It makes men more gentle, considerate, and gracious towards others; and elevates the tone of masterhood and servanthood, establishing mutual helpfulness as the ruling feature in all relationships.
III. RELIGION MUST NOT BE LOST IN BUSINESS. This it may be in two ways.
1. By excess of ambition and exertion preventing due attention to religious duties and personal culture (see 2 Timothy 2:4).
2. By the wealth getting spirit spoiling the Christian spirit. Illustrate by our Lord's saying, "How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of heaven!" - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.