Have you ever heard the statement: “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence“?
People are never satisfied with their own situation; they always think others have it better. It is easy to apply this philosophy to marital status.
If you are single, you may think that being married will alleviate some of your problems. Yet, it may create problems that you never knew. If you are married, you may think that divorce will get rid of your problems. But it may create problems you never had before. The grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence.
Paul encourages us to stay in our current marital condition until the time is right by focusing on the contentment. You can read what he says in 1 Corinthians 7:17-24.
This is an interesting Scripture passage because though it is the middle of a chapter about marriage, Paul does not mention marriage or family. He talks about the broader principle – contentment.
Paul mentions two social themes: circumcision and slavery. One was a religious issue, the other a political and social issue. But Paul does not encourage a revolution from these restraints. He advises to stay where you are and use each situation as a unique opportunity to glorify God.
The Life Principle is: Be content where you are, who you are with, what you are doing.
Let me apply contentment to three issues:
Society: Change the world one soul at a time.
Paul talks about a very evil social institution – slavery. But Paul never does condemn slavery. He even tells us to be content to be a slave. If the opportunity comes up to be free – go for it. But Paul is not interested in disturbing the existing structure of society. The primary purpose of the Gospel is not to change society but to change hearts. It is an inward change, not an outward change. When faithfully followed, biblical Christianity cannot help but have a radical effect on every person, institution, and activity around it. But the primary purpose is to change people. The Gospel focuses on an inward change, not outward.
God’s primary purpose through His church in the world is to evangelize and change the world through spiritual conversion, not social revolution.So while we care about what is going on in our society, we know it will not change through politics, legislation, or social pressure. It will change through individuals living out the life of Jesus where they are.
Because God has saved each person from a particular social realm and unique life situation, that person should continue in that same situation. Why? – in order to continue as a light in that particular social sphere. Suppose everybody who became a Christian decided to leave where they were at? They left their jobs, their communities, their families, their leisure activities. The kingdom of God would be at a standstill. God has commissioned us to be an influence where we were when He saved us. You could be the catalyst of a revival in your location just by being content to be a Christian where you are.
We change our world one person, one soul, at a time. Maybe you can start a revolution by helping one person turn to Jesus.
Family: Live in the Moment.
This passage on contentment is right in the middle of Paul’s counsel about marriage. The primary application of ‘staying’ is in the context of your marital status. Don’t be wishing you were in a different family status than you are right now. Be content who you are with.
Envy is very deceiving. When you see somebody and wish you were them, you don’t see the whole picture. Every marital and family situation has problems. But we often see our problems bigger than their problems, because they are closer. Don’t be so quick to trade your problems for their problems. You may not be ready to handle them right now.
When we aren’t content in the marital or family situation we find ourselves in, we miss out on the blessings of today. Don’t be so focused on what used to be or on what one day will be that you fail to enjoy what is.
If you are single, enjoy it. If you are married, embrace it. If you don’t have children, appreciate the quietness. If you have children, appreciate those precious lives. Live today. Live in the moment.
Life: The heart of the problem is the problem in the heart.
We are prone to think that a change in circumstances is the answer to a problem. The whole paragraph could be paraphrased: “Do not be in a hurry to change the external circumstances of your life simply because you have become a Christian.” It could be that God wants to change you and your circumstances, by changing your heart.
The problem is usually within us and not around us. The heart of every problem is the problem in the heart.
Conversion is not the signal for a person to quit everything they are doing and follow Jesus. We are to leave sin and anything that encourages sin; but otherwise we are to do what we are doing until God wants to change us. Be content with what you are doing.
Regardless of our outward condition, it does not change who we are on the inside. Paul reminds us, if you are a slave, consider yourself free in Jesus. If you are free, consider yourself a slave to Jesus. Whatever your outer condition, you belong to Jesus. He is more concerned with what you are in your heart, than what you do with your body.ad