1Co 7:17 “But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches. Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.”
We sometimes think that we could not possibly have anything to offer in service to God. Once blessed to understand our Adamic nature, we realize that our righteousness is as filthy rags. Our works are tainted with sin, and we are not worthy of the least of God’s blessings.
But God: time and again we are rescued by these words. While of ourselves we may have nothing to offer, God has distributed (apportioned or bestowed – see Strong’s) to every man according to his calling. He has not left it to us to determine our calling, but the Lord Himself has called and set us apart to serve Him.
Knowing that God does all things well, Paul then testifies that he does not try to interfere with the work of God. The Greek word rendered here as “ordained” means to arrange, appoint, or command. In every church, Paul went in the power of the Holy Spirit and followed that leading to set things in order. He is now assuring the Corinthian brethren that he is doing the same thing here.
It is only by God’s wisdom that we know when to leave things alone. As men, we tend to think that our way is best, and everyone should conform to our way. Paul was a Jew and described himself as being a Pharisee and the son of a Pharisee (Act 23:6). He was establishing his lineage as being a faithful keeper of the Jew’s religion. As such, circumcision was vital in the way Paul was brought up to believe.
In demonstration of the power of God’s grace, Paul pointed to something that he himself would once have insisted on; circumcision. He declares to the Corinthian brethren (and many in other places) that if God was pleased to call them being circumcised, not to seek to be uncircumcised, and vice versa. We understand that the circumcision of the flesh cannot be undone, so there has to be a deeper meaning.
Sometimes we can walk in a legal service to God and still not see the depths of His love and grace. Paul said that when he was persecuting the church in his early years that he really believed He was doing God service. Once he was converted to a life of grace through Jesus Christ, he no longer served God according to the law. However, he did not go out and try to live like the uncircumcision either.
When God calls us into His marvelous grace, regardless of whether we have served under a legal religious system or have been fully engaged in the pursuit of the world, His calling changes us. We do not have to become circumcised or uncircumcised. These concepts are empty when the Lord calls us to come and serve Him. The thing that matters once He has called is that we keep His commandments in demonstration of our love for Him and His work of salvation.
May we be blessed to serve as He has called us and not seek the approval of flesh and blood!