Read This Week: 1 Corinthians 7
Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches. – 1 Corinthians 7:17 NIV
Our circumstances are given too much credit for our happiness in life. We depend on them to be right instead of on God for our contentment and satisfaction. Our joy and peace are unnecessarily tethered to the state of a relationship, the disposition of another person or the trajectory of a career. Sometimes, our lives are dictated by where we live or where our kids go to school.
Throughout the Bible, we are exhorted, encouraged and commanded to be content with whatever state we are in. As Christians, this should be a reality because we are children of God, made in His image, loved by Him and called to live on mission for His eternal purposes. These affirming and amazing realities are all we need to have peace, joy, and hope whatever comes our way.
In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul addresses some important issues. The church in Corinth was confronting serious things like marriage, divorce, singleness and life transitions. These circumstances were greatly affecting their perspective, mood, and outlook on life. They were also greatly affecting how they viewed and worshipped God. The same is true for us in our modern times. These issues and struggles are prevalent and impactful. They often determine our mindset, health, and spiritual direction.
However, in verses 11 and 17-24, Paul makes it clear that the call of God on the married, divorced or single person is the same. The call to handle things with God’s wisdom and live in peace and contentment with His will. In verse 11 he writes, “Each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them.” Then summed it up in verse 24 with this encouragement: “Each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.”
Marriage, divorce, and singleness are serious matters to contend with in life. Paul is not minimizing their impact but is outlining the proper way to deal with them. He does this while emphasizing their inferiority to God’s power and peace. In other words, God desires for us to trust Him and have the right perspective amid our circumstances. Our relationships do not change the character or intentions of God and his calling. Our situations don’t take precedence over our identity in Him.
The prevailing message here seems to be that there is no true categorization of our situations in life. There are just situations. Situations that look and feel differently. Situations that incite different emotions. Situations that burden us but where we are sustained, empowered and propelled by God’s grace. In all situations, joy and peace come from something greater, something distinct from our relationship status or life transition. It comes from the Lord. So whatever may come, we can have the strength to deal with it and live in peace.
Paul is also the writer of Philippians 4:13 that says, “For I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength,” which shows that the situation does not define a life nor does it determine or prevent the source of power. Our fulfillment is not subjected to circumstances but is ultimately provided by the person, Jesus Christ. In him, we have whatever we need for the journey.