Consider Your Calling

Man thinking

In Paul’s first epistle to Corinth, he spoke of the gospel – “the word of the cross” (1 Corinthians 1:18). Though many had rejected it, these Christians had accepted it. However, they needed to remain faithful to the Lord. In order to encourage them to do this, Paul admonished them, “Consider your calling” (1 Corinthians 1:26). We must do the same if we hope to please the Lord and be saved in the end.

What Is Our Calling?

Paul told the brethren in Thessalonica that we are “called…through [the] gospel” (2 Thessalonians 2:14). This gospel would be preached throughout the world (Mark 16:15) and was the “power of God for salvation” (Romans 1:16).

However, to the world, the gospel is “foolishness”; to Christians, it is “the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). The difference has to do with one’s reaction to the gospel.

In being called through the gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:14), we are called to conform to the gospel. The foundation of the gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). We must conform to this by becoming dead to sin, being buried in baptism, and being raised to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:3-6).

This is our calling – to believe in Christ, obey Him, and walk in such a way as to please Him. Some will answer this call, but many will reject it. Notice what Paul wrote:

For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).

Let us consider the difference between those who reject the call of the gospel and those who answer that call.

Those Who Reject the Call

Those who are wise according to the flesh – They follow after the wisdom of the world. Yet Paul said that we cannot “come to know God” through the world’s wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:21). Instead, we can know God through the gospel that was given for “all creation” (Mark 16:15). However, these ones who reject the call of the gospel value learning or wisdom that is exclusive. Paul warned that “knowledge makes arrogant” (1 Corinthians 8:1) and these individuals want worldly wisdom that others do not have and cannot obtain. Arrogance is the attitude behind this. James condemned this attitude when he wrote, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). God opposes the proud because they, in their arrogance, will oppose Him.

Those who are mighty according to the flesh – The word translated “mighty” means powerful or strong. It is the idea that one, due to his strength, is in need of nothing. The church in Laodicea believed this about themselves: “Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,’ and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked” (Revelation 3:17). Paul warned against this mentality when he wrote to the saints in Rome: “I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think” (Romans 12:3). As one thinks too highly of himself, he will begin to think that he does not need God. This will lead those with this attitude to reject the gospel.

Those who are noble according to the flesh – This means to be born of a noble family. As we read through the Scriptures, we can see that the Jews took pride in their heritage. Yet John the Baptist said, “Do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham” (Matthew 3:9). In other words, God could chose anyone to be among His people. However, this pride in heritage was not limited to the Jews. Throughout human history, people have taken pride in their family, race, nation, economic status, and so on. This continues today. But Paul made it clear that any reason we have to boast in the flesh is worthless. After listing all of the things about which he could boast, he wrote, “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ” (Philippians 3:7). No one’s heritage or status in society is so important that he does not need the Lord.

Those Who Answer the Call

Those who accept the wisdom from above – This wisdom has been with God since the beginning (Proverbs 8:22). We can obtain this wisdom by following the truth of His word. The wise man said, “Buy truth, and do not sell it, get wisdom and instruction and understanding” (Proverbs 23:23). God’s word is truth (Psalm 119:160; John 17:17); therefore, we must follow His word in order to obtain wisdom. We must “walk, not as unwise men but as wise” (Ephesians 5:15). This is accomplished by being “doers of the word, and not merely hearers” (James 1:22).

Those who are strong in the Lord – Paul confidently stated, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). He told the Ephesians to be “strong in the Lord” (Ephesians 6:10). How could they do this? They were to “put on the full armor of God” (Ephesians 6:11-17). As Paul explained, we are up against a powerful enemy: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). Despite this, Paul wrote, “We overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).

Those who have been born again as children of God – It is a great privilege to be a child of God. John wrote, “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God” (1 John 3:1). John said in his gospel that “those who believe in His name” have “the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). However, that does not mean that all who believe will take advantage of this (cf. John 12:42-43). But we have the opportunity to be “born again” through baptism (John 3:3-5; cf. 1 Peter 1:23). This allows us to have a “living hope…to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven” (1 Peter 1:3-4).

Conclusion

Paul told the brethren in Corinth to consider their calling. We must consider ours as well. We have been called through the gospel to live up to God’s standard that is found in it. Many reject this call because they value the things of this world over the things of God. Let us not be like them. We are more wise, more mighty, and more noble through Christ. If we reject Christ, we will put to shame in the end.