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1 Corinthians 7:8-40

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 …

Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them. Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you – although if you can gain your freedom, do so …

Brothers and sisters, each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called them …

I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.

(verses 17, 20-21, 24, 35)


The main issue in this chapter has to do with marriage and how Christians are to navigate sexuality, singleness, married life, separation, divorce, and re-marriage.

But there are two themes that are interwoven in Paul’s thinking throughout: calling and freedom. Is there an ideal life-circumstance to which every believer should aspire? No. God’s calling rests on people in a great variety of circumstances, sanctifying many stations of life. Marriage? Yes. Singleness? Yes. Slavery? Yes. Emancipation? Yes.

What seems clear is that any life-situation can be sanctified as a setting used by the Lord for his own purposes and glory. We’re not to let the dream of an “ideal” get in the way of the reality of the moment. Don’t let yearning for marriage distract you from what God is wanting to do in and through you in your singleness. Don’t let a difficult work-setting side-line you from how the Lord could use you there in the meantime. Don’t allow an unsaved spouse to be an occasion for believing that God’s plans are diminished in your circumstance. Even the struggles of a difficult marriage can be used by him as the setting in which he displays his own glory and goodness.

The practical issue of “calling,” therefore, is discovered by simply looking around at where the Lord has you. Paul’s simple rule of thumb is: Stay there. Be content. Understand that this setting is full of potential for God’s purposes. It’s got his fingerprints on it. You’re doing well.

But, there is also “freedom.” If you’re a slave and receive the opportunity to be set free, take it. If you’re single and choose to marry, do so. If you are widowed, you will be blessed if you remain single and you will be blessed if you marry again, in the Lord.

“Calling” assures us that we have not gotten to where we are by mistake. The Lord’s hand has been upon us, even before we knew him. He is able to use our setting perfectly in his purposes. But “freedom” tells us that he also works in our present yearnings and opportunities. He can open new doors into marriage or career or renewed circumstance of any kind. If we have our eyes on him, we have freedom to step into these new possibilities, especially when they meet our heart’s desire.

In it all, Paul desires us to “live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord” (7:35). Whatever our circumstances, whatever our opportunities, our eyes are to remain on him. For his glory.


Lord, thank you for the calling on my life. I put before you again the circumstance in which I find myself. Use it all for your glory.

And I place before you again the yearnings of my heart, as yet unrealized. Open doors of possibility as you see fit. Yet I won’t be sidelined in the meantime. I will press forward in you.



Talk through with the Lord the life-setting in which you’re currently situated. Commit it to him afresh for his purpose. Step into more of it today.

Place before him any yearnings you long to see fulfilled, changing your circumstance. Pray, and trust.


Photo by Tom Parsons on Unsplash

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