Summary: This message looks at the calling God has placed on the lives of all Christians and how He wants us to use us right where we are.
- This passage is structured like a Big Mac: vv. 17, 20, 24 as the bread (pointing out that we are to remain in the situation where we were called) and vv. 18-19 and 21-23 as the meat (giving two illustrations of that).
Three Questions On Being Used By God:
1. How many Christians are called? All of them.
- “call” - vv. 17, 18, 20, 21, 22, 22, 24.
- We want to put the idea of “calling” off on missionaries and pastors so that we’ll be free to run our lives the way we want to, but that’s not biblical. God has a job for everyone, no matter where they are.
- The word in v. 17 means “assignment.” God has assigned you to the place where you are. This includes your social position, your geographic position, your employment, etc.
2. How far do you h ave to travel to find your calling? Not one foot.
- vv. 17, 20, 24.
- God can use us right where we are. He repeats this truth three times so that we don’t miss it.
- We are easily discontented. “If only I had a better job. . .” “If I lived in a newer house. . .” “If I had a better marriage. . .” We need to remember that we have not come to the place where we are without God’s knowledge. He knew where we would be and there’s no doubt that He has been guiding our lives and circumstances (even before we believed) to bring us to this usable place.
- This does not mean that God does not sometimes call people to get up and go somewhere new, as He called Abram. The point is that you don’t have to travel somewhere else to be called by God. You are called right where you are. If He desires to use you elsewhere, He’ll guide you there, but until then He wants to use you where you are.
- We should note: Paul’s instructions here obviously do not mean that a new Christian should stay in an immoral profession (say, prostitution).
3. What should I focus on in order to be used? Three things:
(1) Desiring spiritual progress (v. 17 - “so let him walk”)
- This is especially in contrast to making progress in worldly things (career, finance, etc.). It’s not that those things are bad or should be deliberately avoided, it’s just that they aren’t the main point and therefore shouldn’t be what we obsess about.
(2) Obeying the commands of God (v. 19)
(3) Enjoying the presence of God (v. 24 - “remain with God”)
- God already is where you are; you should enjoy His presence.
Three Situations To Apply These Truths:
1. To the person who hates their job.
- v. 21.
- There is certainly a world of difference between being a slave and working for a modern corporation (jokes to the contrary aside). Still, there is something of an analogy here in that it is our vocation, our work.
- At least three thoughts come to mind:
a. We often believe that happiness in the workplace can only be found in one more promotion or one more jump to another company. Paul here is calling us to see that we can have a tremendous impact right where we are. In fact, he’s going so far as to say that right where we are may well be right where God wants us to be.
- Does this preclude ever looking for another job? No. The point is that the endless searching for better and more lucrative employment misses the point that God desires to actively use you right now right where you are.
b. Some of our college students spend much time and sweat in prayer trying to discern God’s perfect will when it comes to the correct career path that they are to pursue. This passage would seem to point in the direction that, many times, there are multiple choices where God could use you. If you feel no definitive calling to one particular choice, that may not mean a lack of adequate prayer; it may mean that God is equally satisfied with any of the options on the table.
c. By our actions, our media, and our words, we teach our children that happiness can only be found at the top of the ladder. (“Unless you’re the lead dog the view never changes” and such.) This passage is a reminder that God can use us wherever we may happen to be, even if we’re closer to the bottom than the top.
2. To the person who wants to be a social revolutionary.
- v. 21.
- I don’t believe Paul here is proclaiming slavery to be a good thing. After all, he says that if the opportunity presents itself for you to become free, you should take it.