1 Corinthians 5-8

Blooming Where Planted

In Chapter 7, verse 21, Paul says to those who have become believers in Christ, yet bound as slaves, to not worry about it, but if they are able to become free, take that opportunity. Since he is talking about slavery it is easy to overlook what he is saying but his instruction really serves as a principle for what he tells us in these chapters.

In this section there are three ways a person is enslaved. The first is by the living situation one was in before they were called by God. For us today this could be how we make our living, marriage, or even where we were born and live. These are usually neutral, as far as living a moral life goes, but they do demand our time and attention.  

The second way we can be enslaved is by following worldly passions.  These often promise freedom but deliver just the opposite. We see the results of this in our culture today with divorce, bankruptcy, addiction to any and everything, and so on. Quite often when we think of being set free by Jesus we think of this kind of enslavement.

The third type of enslavement is found in verses 22&23. Whether we consider ourselves a slave or free, in reality, we all serve something or someone. As Christians we are called to serve the Lord.

When we give our life to Christ Jesus we are a new creation. There are things we have done in the past that we can’t undo. Paul uses circumcision as an example in verses 18-20. There are other situations we are in that we may think we need to change but should not. Paul uses marriage as an example in verse 27. What Paul is saying is that whatever situation we find ourselves in we are the Lord’s servant. We are to bloom where we are planted.

Servants often live in difficult situations. Their agenda is not their own but their master’s. As new believers we may find ourselves in difficult situations. When in these situations the world usually responds in one of two ways. We fight or we take flight. God calls us to a third option, faith. We are to serve God by following the Law of Love. Paul illustrates this in Chapter 8. Love is patient and love is kind Paul tells us in Chapter 13 verse 4. It is interesting that Chapter 13, the love chapter of the Bible, is right in between two chapters on spiritual gifts. Chapter 12 describes the gifts and Chapter 14 describes the proper use of the gifts according to the law of love.

“We love, because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 NASB  

Our love is a reflection of God’s love for us. Jesus said that those who realize how much they have been forgiven love much. The reality is that all believers have been forgiven much. However, pride can blind us to the reality of just how much we have been forgiven. Pride can also blind us to our need to forgive others.  When this happens we will have a weak relationship with God and our serving Him will suffer.  It is no accident that while Jesus was teaching His disciples about forgiveness that they asked Him to increase their faith. In Luke 17 Jesus warned His disciples that there would be events that they would face that would tempt them to sin or be a stumbling block that would tempt them to act out rather than forgive. The Greek word that is translated “stumbling block” is a word we looked at before from which we get our word “scandal.” It is the trigger on the trap where the bait is put. What Jesus is saying is that the devil will put before us things that will offend us that we will have to forgive and may have to forgive over and over. When the apostles heard this they asked Jesus to increase their faith. Verse 5.

He then taught them about being a servant and having the attitude of a servant in verses 6-10.

Following His teaching Jesus and His disciples are met on the road between Samaria and Jerusalem by ten lepers who cry out to Him for healing. Jesus sent them to the priests and as they went they were cleansed. When they realized they were cleansed only one of them turned back and glorified God. He was a Samaritan. The other nine did not return or give glory to God and Jesus asked where they were.

What took place clearly illustrates what Jesus had just taught. Jesus was the servant. He served by healing the ten but only one responded to his being cleansed. Here we must note that it was God who got the glory not Jesus. Jesus was God’s servant! The Glory was due to God.

Now what about the other nine? Jesus sent them to the priest to show them they had been cleansed and presumably offered sacrifices for their cleansing. Again, it is no accident that the very next incident Jesus is faced with is the religious rulers wanting to know when the kingdom of God was coming. In reality they should have known the answer to that question when the ten lepers who had been cleansed of leprosy arrived in Jerusalem. Jesus was the coming King who, at this time, was a servant doing His Father’s will. And so, Jesus continues to serve His Father and teach those who were rejecting Him and plotting to kill Him, about the coming kingdom.

Now, before we end this study, let’s go back and read Luke 17:6 which records the first thing Jesus said when they asked Him to increase their faith. He said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you.” NASB

This is interesting since a mulberry tree would be large and well established while a mustard seed was very small. How could a seed move a well-established tree? The answer, of course, is by faith. So, how much faith does a mustard seed have? It has 100%. A mustard seed is only going to produce a mustard plant. That is what it was programmed by God to do. It is also in its DNA to live and grow no matter what.

Recently I was driving in Los Angeles on the freeway system where thousands, if not millions, of cars are traveling at high speed when possible every moment of every day. What is interesting is that everywhere there is a crack or a seam in the pavement there are green plants sprouting and growing in spite of the harsh dry environment.  

In the illustrations we just looked at in Luke 17 Jesus was that mustard seed who had 100% faith in His Father’s will and plan. As He was serving His Father, He was up rooting the well-established religious rulers.

Jesus is our example. As new creations we are to have 100% faith in Him and in His plan for us. Faith in God trusts that God is in control. We say it in our prayer when we pray “thy will be done,” but we do His will by faith.

Here are some scriptures for further study. Luke 17; Philippians 2; Hebrews 12

By faith you can bloom where you are planted no matter what your circumstances!

Pastor Dave