Bloom Where You’re Planted, Content in Every Condition (1 Corinthians Sermon 25)

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Bloom Where You’re Planted, Content in Every Condition (1 Corinthians Sermon 25)

April 07, 2019 | Andrew Davis
1 Corinthians 7:17-28
Contentment, Marriage

Has Christ Done Enough for You to Make you Happy?

Just like to ask that you turn in your Bibles to 1 Corinthians 7, as we continue our study in this incredible epistle. And I want to ask you a question that came powerfully into my life as I was writing my book on Christian contentment. It's something that stands over me every day, every moment of my life, it is this question: has Christ crucified for sins on the cross, raised to life again, by the power of God, ascended and seated at the right hand of God, interceding for you… Has Christ done enough for you to be happy today, or must he do a little more? And whatever, you would say, honestly, I really think he needs to do a little more that is apparently not enough based on my mental state right now, I would challenge you that whatever additional thing you want him to do is probably an idol.

It's probably some created circumstance that you're putting too much weight on, you feel you need that in order to be happy, and it is not true, and the Lord wants to weed that out of your heart. And what's remarkable is that, I believe, though he doesn't use the language, the overt language of Christian contentment in this section that you heard Topher just read for us a moment ago, he is arguing from a perspective of Christian contentment and he's going to apply it to life status generally, and to marital status, specifically.

We live in a discontented age we live in, a discontented world, we are surrounded by miserable people, people who are discontent, when they sit and when they rise when they leave home when they stay at home they're discontent with their jobs, they're discontent with their material possessions, they're discontent with their mode of transportation, they're discontent with the traffic and with the weather they're discontent with the season. In the winter, they say, if it were only summer, in the summer, they say if it were only winter. Now, I've learned in the Christian life, to see more and more, sin is never just out there with all those people. Sin is right here in my own heart. I am also discontent from time to time in all of those situations.

Now, as I look at our world, I look at what we're facing. And I think about even the text that we're in in the section I think there may be no topic that brings as much discontentment in this world as marital status. People yearning, single people yearning to find their soul mate. Yearning to find someone who will bring meaning into their life, I'm talking about non-Christians, just listening to the songs that are sung and then if their relationship falls apart, they act as if they cannot go on living now without that person. And then, sadly, even once people get married, they seem to be discontent in that marriage. They finally got what they wanted and within a short amount of time, their disillusioned and their discontent, and so people are discontent in marital status.

And so I think it's a beautiful thing that God wants to speak into all of this and give us words of wisdom as Jesus said so beautifully to the church, so many years ago, the night before he was crucified, I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you. And He comes to us by the Holy Spirit, and by the Scripture, and he comes to us today to speak into this situation of being content in any and every situation, the rare jewel of Christian contentment. Now, here in this context, let's try to understand the context. The Apostle Paul is answering a question that was put to him.

I. The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment

He is in a new section in the epistle 1 Corinthians 7:1 he said, "Now concerning what you wrote to me quote it is good for a man not to touch a woman." In other words, it's good for us as Christians who are now redeemed or in a whole new realm of the Spirit, and turn our backs on the realm of the flesh to abstain from all sexual interaction completely. Now that's what some of the Corinthians were thinking and had written to him.

Now, in the context, we can see why some might think that they were living there in Corinth in a pagan world, super-sexualized and corrupt sexually, and we see the corruption even in the church, in 1 Corinthians 5, there's a man there that has his father's wife and Paul says you need to act decisively and excommunicate that man immediately. 1 Corinthians 5, then in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, he lists, a series of sinful life patterns that you have to be redeemed out of or you're not going to go to heaven. And four of them relate to sex, fornication, adultery, effeminacy, homosexuality and then other sins besides, and he says that When the Gospel came, and you believed in the message of Christ and him crucified, you are radically transformed as he will say In the next epistle, if anyone is in Christ, he's a new creation. The old is gone, everything has become new. And so He says there in that context, such were some of you, you are ex-fornicators, ex-adulterers, ex-effeminate, ex-homosexuals.

And ready for the Kingdom of heaven, ready to enter eternity and then in the second half of that chapter, 1 Corinthians 6, he deals with some in the church that had not forsaken the habit of visiting temple prostitutes. And Paul has to address them very vigorously about sexual immorality, and the need for complete sexual purity. And then he brings up a new section, but it's right there in context. Problems with sexual purity, he says, "Some of you are saying to me it's good for a man not to touch a woman period. So even within marriage that we would have complete sexual abstinence. And Paul, in addressing that has said, "I don't deny, that for some people, that is true, people who are given the gift of singleness, celibate singleness."

It is good for them not to touch a woman or vice versa for those women sisters in Christ to not be with a man that is true, but not everyone can accept it. Some have the one gift, and some have the other, and so he elevates the two gifts that God has given for sexual purity, in this world, which is celibate singleness, and then Holy marriage, and so he's going through and he's addressing all of these things, and he addresses various marital status to the single people, to the Christian couples, to those that are married to non-Christians, and he's been dealing with all of that. Now in the midst of all of this, practical advice about how to live a healthy God-honoring life, sexually.

He gives us a central lesson, that's going to unify our text today, look at verse 17. "Nevertheless each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him in which God has called him. This is the rule that I lay down in all the churches." So, just retain the place in life you are in. He said, This is what I say all the time and he's going to go through various life situations and He's going to apply this same lesson in verse 18 to the circumcised. He says, "Stay circumcised." To the uncircumcised he says, "Stay uncircumcised." Then he gives this lesson again look at verse 20, "each one should remain in the situation, which he was in when God called him," or in which God called him verse 20.

Then amazingly, he addresses slaves of which the overwhelming majority of the early Christian church, were slaves. There were millions of slaves in the Greco-Roman world, and so many of the early Christians were... You know, not many wise, not many influential, not many of noble birth, they were slaves, many of them and so he says to the slaves... To the slaves, he said don't let your slave... The fact that you're slaves bother you, that's incredible. Don't let it trouble you. But if you can get your freedom, do it. However, in verse 24, each person should remain with God, in whatever circumstance, he was in when called. So God is enough for you, that's what he's saying. You should remain in your walk with God in whatever circumstance in which he called you. Then in verses 25-28, he returns to home-base which is the topic of marriage and singleness, so he's been dealing with general life situations, but then he returns to the topic of marital status and he addresses virgins, unmarried single people, who've never been married. And the advice he gives generally to them is stay where you are.

Don't be pining and yearning after marriage. Don't be yearning to change your circumstances. And he begins his overt advocacy of the single life which he continues in the next section, we're not going to address it today. And the central lesson again, verse 26, Look at it, because of the present crisis. I think it is good for you to remain as you are. It's the consistent teaching throughout this section of 1 Corinthians 7. Now I think in all of this, Paul is arguing not overtly, but from the perspective of Christian contentment.

God gave me a great gift and a great privilege of studying this topic for a couple of years and writing a book on it, and I learned so much from it. Now, I wasn't going to tell you this, but this is kind of a low point in my life. Over the last week and a half, I was doing a radio interview based on this book and the radio host called me "the guru of Christian contentment." What in the world should I do with that? I was speechless, which is not a good way to be in an eight-minute interview. No, I'm not a guru of anything. Let's start there. And certainly not of Christian continent. I feel very much that God gave me the gift of studying this because I needed it as much as anyone I know. I'm not claiming like Paul did to have learned the secret of contentment in any and every situation. Just I am claiming I need it.

And so I think he's arguing for that. I'm not going to try to force a square peg in a round hole. I think that's exactly what Paul's doing here. He's saying you should be content in your life situation. And frankly, that will be the best way you can possibly be single and the best way you can possibly be married is to be content in Christ.

What is contentment?

Now, what do we mean by contentment, what is that? Well, just in a simple kind of definitional sense, contentment, to me, is just in a mental or emotional state of peace and happiness that's just when you think of... It's a combo... A combination of peacefulness and happiness. So I think that's when we would use the word, I'm content. Worldly contentment is totally based on favorable circumstances. Your five senses are satisfied. So picture late in the afternoon on Thanksgiving Day, alright?  When that chemical in the Turkey is kicking in and nobody's really watching the football game any more half of the people they're asleep. So that would be kind of a picture of worldly contentment bellies full, people sleepy. So there's that picture.

Or imagine a sports fan going to bed the night that their team has won the championship and all the adrenaline's worn off by them, but they're just laying there, going back over the game in their mind and they're just happy, follow this team all year and they won the championship.

Or imagine a young married couple, on their honeymoon, and they're cuddling together, on a beach and the sun's going down and it's just really beautiful and they're just completely happy in each other and happy with their life circumstances.

Or imagine a law school graduate has just gotten a pretty prestigious placement and everything's falling into place, and they're walking across the campus of the law school, and they're just happy with what happened today.

Or imagine a baby nestling in her mommy's arms, warm, protected happy, trusting, wordless, but just everything's fine. So these are all pictures of normal, worldly, earthly contentment.

Christian contentment is a supernatural thing, it is not worldly, it's not based on earthly circumstances, it is based on invisible spiritual realities. It is based on a fact of an Almighty God, who is your adoptive Father who loves you. A God, who sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross for you. Not just for sinners in general, but for you, He died for you. And you know this by faith and your sins are forgiven and you have received the gift of the Holy Spirit as a deposit guaranteeing your future inheritance, in Heaven. And all of that, plus the promises that God has made for your future covering now until the day you die and then just really take off after that filling you with hope based on your faith and the promise of God contentment is based on those things, not on any earthly circumstance and you come to realize that your earthly circumstances are just props and window dressing or dress-ups like kids used to do which God has given you for a certain purpose in this world. He's got some work for you to do, and He's giving you that and that it includes prosperity and affliction both. He's just kind of dressing you up and putting you in a setting for his own purposes. And you just look at every earthly thing that way, all of it, including marriage.

Paul and Contentment in the Philippian Jail

Now, the Apostle Paul other than Jesus is the greatest teacher, an exemplar, a living example of Christian contentment there has ever been. And I think to me, one of the key moments I've mentioned it more times I can count from this pulpit and I never tire of mentioning it, because I think about it probably every day. And that is Paul and Silas in the Philippian jail, the greatest picture to me other than Christ, the picture of Christian contentment. You remember how they were arrested for preaching the Gospel, actually for doing an exorcism and they were beaten publicly.

And they were thrown in a nasty dark dungeon and they were put in the inner cell where there's no light, and their feet were bound in stocks and their backs were bleeding, and their stomachs were empty and their tongues were burning with thirst and the stench must have been incredible, and they were hearing the curses, and the complaints of other prisoners and at midnight they began to sing praises to Jesus. I'm like, "Oh God, give me that contentment give me that life I want to be like that, I don't want to be like I have to be bought off God, if you don't buy me off, if you don't give me what I want, I'm going to be angry at you. I just want to be so filled with Christ that I can sing in whatever jail you put me in." So that's Paul and Silas. And so, they displayed it.

And you remember what happened, how God moved it supernaturally and how there was this incredible earthquake and the prison doors flew open and everybody's chains, fell off, but no one ran away and the Philippian jailer was about to fall on his sword because he lost all of his prisoners no fault of his own, but Romans were merciless. But the voice comes out from the inner cell. Don't harm yourself. We're all here and the jailer calls for lights, rushed in, fell trembling before Paul and Silas, brought them out and said, "What must I do to be saved?" question that changed his eternity Believe in the Lord Jesus, Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your household. And that's true for all of us right now, that's the source of it.

It may be that God brought you here today to hear this moment in the message not so much to think about marriage or singleness, but just to hear that statement, Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, saved from what? Saved from hell. And saved from missing heaven. Which is so good that even if there were no hell, if you missed it, it'd be like, hell, did not be there. But there is a hell, there's a fire that never goes out and if you believe in Jesus, you will be delivered from what you and all of us as sinners deserve which is condemnation and hell.

And that becomes the basis of lasting contentment for the rest of your life no matter what your marital status, is. Believe in the Lord Jesus and the Philippian jailer did he and his family, and they cared for Paul they washed his wounds, they fed them and beginning of the Philippian church along with the other converts that had already been made an amazing story.

The "Thank You" Note

Well, in the course of time that same Philippian church sent Paul, some money when he... They'd heard he was in prison again, and he was in prison in just about every city that he went and preached and it's incredible and he was in prison and they sent him money and Paul wants to thank them so he wrote an amazing thank you note. When I write a thank you, I write it on thank you note Stationary. It says thank you on the front. And then I just say Thanks for the money, something like that. And I try to put in some Scripture verses. Paul wrote the letter of Philippians.

That's his thank you note, And as he's writing Philippians, he can't just say, thank you for the money when he gets to that topic in Chapter 4, he's got to say this about the money. Thanks for the money. But I want you to know I was fine before it came and I'll be fine after it's spent. Just wanted you to know. Please don't take offense. My real reason for being happy the money is not that my belly will be filled or I'll be a little bit warmer at night because I have a blanket. No, because actually, I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, I know what it is to be well-fed, and I know what it is to have nothing.

I've learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, living in plenty or in want. I can do everything, through Him who strengthens me. However, it was good of you to send the money. And off he goes. Now, the word that Paul uses for contentment, there in Philippians 4, translated content is self-sufficient. It's an amazing word, and it should blow your mind. He's like, wait, wait, wait, wait. That doesn't sound in Christianity to me. It seems like that's the very thing we're supposed to be weaned off of, is self-sufficiency.

 We're supposed to learn that Jesus is the vine and we are the branches, and apart from him, we can do nothing. Paul knew that better than anyone. Now, what did he mean? I think he was referring to God's self-sufficiency. And basically, I have learned to be like God, is self-sufficient. I'm going to change it a little bit. I've learned to be God sufficient or Christ sufficient. If I have Christ, I don't need anything else. I don't need anything else if I have Christ. And he said earlier, in Philippians, he said, "For me, to live is Christ. And to die is... " Do you remember? Yeah, I now hear that this way, "more Christ."

Not better than Christ or different than Christ, more of Christ in heaven. I get to see Him face-to-face. I get to be in his presence, so either way, I can't lose. So what does that mean? I don't actually need food. I don't need water. Wait, Paul. If you don't get food and water, you'll die. Mm-hmm, which is better by far. I don't have to eat. If God wants me to stay alive, he'll feed me. I don't need air. If God shuts off my air supply, I'll get there faster, but if God chooses to keep giving me air and food and water and enough, he wants me to keep living, I'm going to serve him. For me, to live is Christ, that's what I want.

Like, wow, if that's true, then that's just pretty explosive. Yeah, this is a very explosive idea. What it means is, I don't need to be noticed by other people. I don't need to be praised by other people. I don't need my freedom. I can be in jail. Alright, I don't need any of the earthly circumstances I thought I used to think I need. I don't need them. If I have Christ, I have enough. That's the foundation of contentment. And so he's saying that. That is the power.

Learning the Secret

And the secret. Wait, he says, "I've learned the secret." Now. The secret means that Christian contentment is possible but not guaranteed. Want to use a secret language? Do you know it's possible to go to heaven as a discontent person? You can be discontent from now until the day you die and go to heaven. But why would you want to do that? Why be in such a miserable condition, when you could be praising and trusting God every day? So it's possible but it's not guaranteed. Paul says "It's a secret to be learned, but I learned it so it is possible." And what is the secret? It's right in the text. Philippians 4:13. "I can do everything through Him who strengthens me."

There's an ongoing strengthening work that God does through the spirit that enables us to be content in any and every situation, to be filled with the Spirit. If you look at the fruit of the Spirit, two of the elements of the fruit of the Spirit are joy and peace. Does that sound familiar? Put them together. That's contentment, so I can be filled with the Spirit and displaying the fruit of the Spirit in any and every situation, but only by the power of the Holy Spirit in me. Conversely, when I meditated on the word strengthen, do you know that discontentment is a display of weakness? It is so weak to be discontent. Weak. I don't want to be a weak today. I don't want some circumstance to come and I'm blown or tossed by that circumstance, and now I'm complaining and I'm whining and moaning and murmuring against God, which is a great sin.

Defining Christian Contentment

Well, that's Paul on contentment. And I also had the privilege of reading Jeremiah Burroughs. Jeremiah Burroughs was a Puritan pastor, and he did a series of sermons on contentment based on Philippians 4. And he gave this dense, theological description of Christian contentment, which I will now recite to you. And then I will hope to unpack it a little bit. Jeremiah Burroughs wrote it, and he was published posthumously. Rare jewel of Christian contentment, is what he says. "Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submit to and delights in God's wise and fatherly disposal in every condition."

Let me break it apart. First of all, it's a frame of spirit. It's an attitude or a demeanor of your soul. It's described with four adjectives. It is a sweet frame of spirit, as opposed to bitter or sour. Ever met somebody who was bitter or sour? You don't want to be around people like that. But someone who's content, it's sweet to be around him. It's an inward frame of spirit. In other words, it's not... We go to acting school and we learn how to act happy. It's a heart work. It is a quiet frame of spirit like when Jesus stilled the storm, you're just tranquil under your father's hand, you're tranquil in it. It's a peacefulness as opposed to murmuring and roiling and re-pining and controverting against God, and complaining and moaning against him.

And it is a gracious frame of spirit. It's something that can only be worked in you by sovereign grace, supernatural grace. So that's the frame of spirit. The second part of the definition is God's wise and fatherly disposal, or let's keep it simple. God as your Father makes decisions about your life. He decided when you will be born, and he has already decided when and where you will die. And who of you by worrying can add a single day to his life? All the days ordained for you are written in God's book before one of them came to be.

And not only that, not only is he the alpha and the omega of your earthly life, he is every day in between. He has made lots of fatherly decisions about you, and they are wise, these fatherly decisions. And he could have said kingly, because he's a king and you're the subject, and he's just going to do what's best for his Kingdom no matter whether it's best for you or not. But Burroughs used the word fatherly, meaning he just tenderly loves you and the two come together because what's best for His kingdom is what's best for his children. It's the same thing, and he is in a marvelous way making fatherly decisions about you. So the third aspect is, it's a frame of spirit that freely submits to that. You're not going to fight it anymore. You're not going to be angry about what God's doing in your life.

But you're going to submit to it because He's your father, and you're a child. He's the king and you're the subject. He's the master, and you're the slave. You're going to submit, but not only that, you're going to delight in it. You're going to delight in what God is doing in your life, even if it brings great sorrow and suffering. How could Paul and Silas delight in being beaten and thrown in a jail? Well, at that time, maybe it's hard to delight, but looking back years later, and they saw what happened and the Philippian jailers family and how that church grew and all that, they can delight in it then.

And you may not know everything that God's choosing for your life, but God has a wise plan and He is wisely bringing you through suffering, or through prosperity. He knows exactly what he's doing. That's Christian contentment. I could go on at length but I'm going to just move now to 1 Corinthians 7. I believe that Paul openly teaching Christian contentment, Philippians 4, clearly exemplifying Christian contentment in Acts 16, is teaching on marriage and singleness out of the perspective of Christmas contentment in 1 Corinthian 7.

II. Christian Contentment Applied to Life Status

So look. Look and see if you can't see that idea. Look at Verse 17. Now, I'm going to read the New American Standard Translation in verse 17. "Only as the Lord has assigned to each one as God has called each. In this manner, let him walk." That's powerful. As the Lord has assigned to each, the Greek word here is means to divide or measure out or separate, to put a boundary around you. Alright. As God has made an assignment to you. Now, that assigning language is the language of God's wise and fatherly decisions about your life. It's the language of providence. God has made a providential decision about you.

Alright, Verse 17. "Only as the Lord has assigned to each one as God has called each…" There's an allotment here. Now, the grammar is a little unclear and you're going to see it in the different English translations. It has to do with the word call and what is God calling. Is it that he's calling you to follow Christ and to be a Christian, and you're in the middle of a specific life circumstance when he did that and the calling is to be a Christian in the midst of that life circumstance, or does the calling extend to the life circumstance itself? He called you to be single. He called you to be a slave. He called you to be circumcised. He called you to be uncircumcised. The grammar doesn't settle it. And as a matter of fact, most of the translations go about 50/50.

Better safe to say, in the midst of your life, He called you to follow Christ. But I could say that the calling might extend also to these specific circumstances that he's addressing. Now, Paul repeats this mentality in all these life situations that we've seen. To the circumcised, that is to the Jews, he gives this advice. And to the uncircumcised, that is the Gentiles, he gives this advice. Look at Verse 18. "Was a man already circumcised when he was called?" In other words, was he a Jewish man. "He should not become uncircumcised. Conversely, was a man uncircumcised when he was called, he should not be circumcised."

Now, this is interesting because it's pretty obvious to any who gives even a little amount of thought to it. There's no way you're going to become uncircumcised. But what He's saying is, if you are living as a Jew, in the pattern of life as a Jewish person, and he's going to deal with this in-depth in Chapter 9, he says to the Jews and became like a Jew. Had to do with your eating, your lifestyle, the patterns of your life. Don't stop all that. Just keep on living like a Jew. And conversely, if you were a Gentile, you don't have to become a Jew in order to be saved.

He deals with this at length in the book of Galatians, saying, circumcision doesn't save you. You don't need to be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses in order to go to Heaven. And so, he gives that again in verse 19. "Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing." It is not going to help you spiritually. Those days are over. Jesus died on the cross, He was raised from the dead, He destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall between Jew and Gentile, of those ceremonial rules like circumcision and dietary laws and all that. Blown up. Now we've got one new person, Christian, some Jews, some Gentiles, but one new person. So you don't need to become the opposite. You Gentiles don't have to become Jews. You Jews don't have to become Gentiles. Just be what you were in the midst of your life when you were called.

And he says circumcision is nothing, uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God's commands is what counts. Now, that's a mind-blower. I can actually find commands concerning circumcision in the Old Testament. A law-abiding Jew would say, "What do you mean keeping God's commands? We're commanded to be circumcised?" No. Not anymore. Not anymore. And the same thing, we were commanded or forbidden concerning dietary laws. We'll get to that in chapters 8-10 about eating. Not anymore. Those things are fulfilled. What commands do you have in mind? Well, those moral laws that are timeless, which Jesus summarized powerfully for us. The first and greatest commandment is this, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul, with all your strength." And the second commandment is like this, "Love your neighbor as yourself." Keep those commandments. That's what matters, not circumcision or uncircumcision.

So, be content in your daily lifestyle. In Verse 20, he says each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. Next, amazingly, this is mind blowing. He addresses slaves. It's really quite remarkable. Look at Verses 21-24. "Were you a slave when you were called? Don't let it trouble you, although if you can gain your freedom, do so. For he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord, is the Lord's freed man, and similarly, he who was a free man when he was called, is Christ's slave. You were bought at a price. Do not become slaves of men. Brothers, each one who is responsible to God should remain in the situation God called him to."

This is incredible. If you are a slave, don't let it bother you. Now this is, it's revolutionary. You can reach such a place in your heart, in your soul, where the fact that you're even a slave and can't walk away doesn't bother you at all. You know you could spend the rest of your life in that condition. Most slaves did. And you can go from, as a Christian slave, you can go from that to being lavishly rewarded on Judgment Day by the master, for how you carried yourself. You actually belong to Jesus and all of the service that you're rendering your earthly master, if you do it right, you're really rendering it to Christ. He goes through all this in Ephesians and Colossians, so you actually can live free-er than your master, if your master is not a Christian.

He's enslaved to sin. Jesus said, "Everyone who sins is a slave to sin." But if Jesus sets you free, you'll be free indeed, you are free in Christ from the real chains, which is it in and death and hell. You're set free from that. You are Christ's freed man. So don't be bothered by your status as a slave. Don't let it weigh on you day after day, saying, "I can't be happy as a slave." Yes, you can. However, he says, if you can get your freedom, do it. It's incredible. So, if an opportunity to get free and to become free comes, fine, but you need to carry the same attitude, because once you become a freed man, you're going to be Christ's slave in the midst of all that.

You'll be free to do whatever you want, go wherever you want. You'll be free to go where the Lord tells you to go. And not only that, but you're going to be in bondage to other people based on circumstances like the parable of the Good Samaritan. You're walking by and somebody's bleeding by the side of the road, you're not free to walk on by. You need to serve that man in love. So, you're going to end up being even horizontally serving to everybody. It's a whole different way of thinking, isn't it? It's powerful. So I love it. He says, If you can get your freedom, do it.

Think. Let's go back to the Philippian jail. Alright. When the chains fell off and the doors came open, Paul didn't run away. Why? Because it would have been illegal, and they would have had to send someone after him to bring him back. And do you realize, if he and the other prisoners had done so, the Philippian jailer would be in hell right now? He would have committed suicide that very night. Never in all the Bible do you see anyone so dangling over hell that's later rescued. This man had drawn his swords ready to fall on it. But because Paul was submissive to God's will in his life, he stayed put. He stayed as a prisoner until the law said it was time for him to go, which they did the next morning.

And they sent messengers saying, "Okay, you're free to go." Paul said, "Wait, wait, wait a minute now. You enslaved us and beat us without a trial, and now you just want us to go away? No. You come and escort us out." But one thing Paul didn't do is say, "Actually, we found a kind of a home here in the dungeon. We love it here. I know there's nothing to eat or drink and I know it stinks and it's dark, but we have learned to be content here and we're going to stay in prison." Not at all. If you can get your freedom, do it, but it's not why he's alive. He's alive and whether he's in prison or free, he belongs to Christ.

III. Christian Contentment Applied to Marital Status

Alright, so now let's take all that and apply it to marital status. Look at verses 25-28. "Now, about virgins, I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one, who by the Lord's mercy, is trustworthy. Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for you to remain as you are. Are you married? Do not seek a divorce. Are you unmarried? Do not look for a wife. But if you do marry, you have not sinned. And if a virgin marries, she has not sinned."

So he begins by addressing virgins or the unmarried. They were perhaps they had been betrothed, but not yet married. Paul says, I do not have a specific command from Jesus on this. So he didn't have a word from Jesus in terms of the catalog of sayings of Jesus, but he speaks as someone who has been trained by God's mercy to speak wisdom into situations. So, he's going to give them advice. And what is that advice? It's predictable. Stay in the condition in which you were called. That's what he's saying. If you are married, then stay married. He's already covered that. The only way to end the marriage would be a divorce and that is not lawful. But it's more than that, isn't it?

Stay married as a content man or content woman. Don't be pining after a better marital status. Don't wish you had a different spouse. Be content in your life situation. Bloom where you're planted, flourish where you're planted, stay in the condition. But if you're single, he says, stay single if you can. Don't allow your mind to be dominated by worldly things. This life is brief. Our time here is temporary. And verse 26, he says, "Because of the present crisis, I think it's good for you to remain as you are." That means just the difficulties of life in this world, and even more, if you're in a persecuted setting. If you might die any day as a Christian, it's better to die as a single person than to leave behind a spouse and kids. So he says, in light of the present crisis, stay single if you can.

So, be content in the circumstance of your life. Don't say, "My life will begin when I find my spouse. Until then, it's all a waste." Don't think like that. Verse 27, "Are you on married? Don't seek for a wife." Don't seek. The keyword here is seek. Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness. Seek the face of God and prayer. Seek what pleases God and find out what God is seeking in the world. He's seeking people to worship Him in Spirit and truth. John 4. He is seeking and saving the lost, Luke 19:10. Don't seek for a wife or a husband.

Do you not see, that's not why we're here on Earth. Even if you had found the most godly spouse and have the most wonderful decades together, at some point, you may well become a widow or a widower. What, does your life end at that point? Your life is not your wife, your life is not your husband. Your life is Christ. Just as Bob was praying from Colossians 3, Christ is your life. When Christ who is your life appears, your wife isn't your life, your husband isn't your life. And so, think like that. Don't seek for this, but he does give this tepid endorsement. If you do marry, you have not sinned. Thank you, Paul. Alright, that's not the final Bible's final word on the blessings of marriage. We covered that already, but he said I just want you to know, if you do choose to marry, you found sin.

Now he's about to make his extended defense of singleness and we'll get to that, God-willing, in the future. So, let me just apply this as we finish. Have you learned the secret of Christian contentment? Are you learning it? Is Christ crucified, resurrected enough for you today, or does he have to do more? If you're a single person, is Christ crucified and resurrected enough for you or do you have to have a spouse? If you are married, is Christ's crucified and resurrected enough for you to be genuinely happy in your marriage, no matter what the situation is with your spouse?

Are you able to be content in Christ, in any and every situation? Are you able to look at your life circumstances? Maybe your medical situation, maybe you're hurting, you're in pain, maybe your spouse is. Maybe your housing situation is not what you want it to be, maybe your job situation is not what you want it to be. Again, if you can improve those things, do so, but don't live for them. Christ is your life.

A final advice here is, bloom where you're planted. Don't be yearning for what God hasn't given you yet. The other day I was watching with one of my kids, the original clip from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. And do you remember how she was singing "Someday My Prince Will Come." Do you remember that? Oh yeah, I forgot that song. It's an interesting song musically, it's a little quirky. Jazz musicians did bunches of riffs on that tune. But it's like, no. I mean, and you could just say, "Oh it's so hokey all that," but I'm telling you, it's incredible. Discontentment is like, "Someday, my X will come. And when that X comes, then I'm going to be happy and fulfilled." Don't live like that. Christ has already given you everything you need to be content today. Live like it. Close with me in prayer.

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