Tuesday, July 15, 2014

BLOOM WHERE YOU'RE PLANTED (1 Corinthians Chapter 7)

1 Corinthians 7:17, “Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned him, and to which God has called him.”

There is a dairy next door to our church.  On occasion malcontent cows escape and make their way to the church premises assuming the grass to be greener on the other side of the fence.  We call the dairy and they put the cows back where they belong.  To my eyes the grass looks the same on either side of the fence, but the cows are thinking otherwise.

Sometimes we humans act like those cows.  God would have us to be content in serving Him in the situation He has placed us, but instead we are occasionally prone to long for something else.  Paul was not telling the Corinthians that they should remain in an illegal or immoral situation (i.e. a thief was not to remain a thief), but outside of that they were to accept that which God had assigned and faithfully serve Him in that situation.

Several areas of discontent prevailed amongst the Corinthians.  Some wanted to change their marital status—from single to married, from married to single, from having an unbelieving partner to having a believing one (Cf. 1 Corinthians 7:8-16).  Some were slaves and wanted to be free (it should be noted that slaves in NT times were usually well treated).  Some were Jews but wanted to appear as Gentiles.  Some were Gentiles and wanted to become like Jews (Cf. 1 Corinthians 7:17-24).

It was to that attitude of discontent that the Apostle spoke.  The believers in Corinth were to be less concerned about their particular circumstances and more concerned about faithfully serving God in whatever circumstance they found themselves.  We sometimes fall into a “If only (fill in the blank)” way of thinking.  If only I had a different job (marriage partner, church, location, etc.), then I would be happy.  But as Chuck Swindoll once pointed out, life is less about our circumstances and more about how we respond to them: “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.  Attitude, to me, is more important than facts.  It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do.  It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill.  It will make or break a company... a church... a home.  The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.  We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way.  We cannot change the inevitable.  The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.  I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.  And so it is with you... we are in charge of our Attitudes.”

It has been said that we should endeavor to “bloom where we are planted.”  God has planted you in a particular place, so bloom (bear fruit) in that place.  OT Joseph is a great example of this principle.  He was sold off into slavery and became the personal servant to Potiphar, “and the Lord caused all that he did to succeed in his hands” (Genesis 39:3).  He was falsely accused and put in prison and the Lord “gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison” (Genesis 39:21).  God orchestrated his release and his eventual promotion to the position of Prime Minister of Egypt (Cf. Genesis 41:37f).  No matter his circumstance--be it a slave, prisoner, or prime minister—Joseph faithfully served and glorified God in that situation.

God sometimes moves people from one job or location or church to another.  And it is good for us to carefully and prayerfully seek God’s leading in such occasions.  In the meantime, in whatever setting we find ourselves, we need to bloom where He has planted us.  There is no place on planet earth that is without need for the beauty and fragrance of Christ’s loving presence made manifest through His people.  Be content.  Be obedient.  Bear fruit in good works.  God can use you in your present calling, whatever it is, to make Him known.

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