Avoid Fretting (1 Cor 7:18-20)

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. Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.” (1 Corinthians 7:18–20, AV)

I remember some controversy in a church right after I was saved. It had to do with tattoos and I’m not talking about something obscene or vulgar. I had also seen this numerous times in various churches. The controversy went like this. A person would come to faith in Christ. He would begin attending the worship experience. People would begin to stare at the tattoos and the person with them would contemplate, “Should I try to remove the tattoos? Should I cover them up?” Some in the congregation said yes, and to others it was a non-issue. Of course, that was nearly 40 years ago. Today, the millennials have put this debate to rest. Many today get Christian themed tattoos and think nothing of it. However, back then the issue was real.

We Christians can really get off track by worrying about things that do not matter. These debates fall into the category of silly fretting. There must have been some silly fretting going on in the church at Corinth as Paul needed to tell them that they should remain as they were when saved (See previous devotion).

In this passage, Paul dealt with the issue of circumcision. It seems that he inserted this to illustrate the point in the previous verse. You see, for one who had been circumcised it would be an impossibility to reverse the marks of circumcision without some sort of extreme radical surgery. On the contrary, those believers who were not circumcised could be circumcised. Paul did not want either of these two categories of believing males to change their status. The reason? Paul goes on to say that the Christian faith is not a matter of circumcision. The reason is that the mandatory sign of the circumcision was limited to the dispensation of the Mosaic Law, the Old Covenant.

Under the New Covenant, the uncircumcised were not encouraged to take the sign of circumcision as the Jews did. This entire debate was settled in the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:1-35). Moreover, Paul indicated that the circumcision that did matter under the New Covenant was one of the believer’s heart, which was accomplished by the work of the Holy Spirit in every believer (Ezek 36:25-27; Rom 2:28-29).

So, Paul’s conclusion was this. The principle that should guide the believer’s life is not fretting over things that are important to man, but focusing on accomplishing the will of God, in keeping his “commandments.” The uncircumcised, the Gentiles, should not try to become Jews and the Jews who are circumcised should not try to erase their heritage. For all who believe, both Jew and Gentile, are now one and new creations in Christ.

Published by Steve Hankins, Th.D.

Steve has had extensive military, business and ministry experience. He has served for over 16 years in full time vocational ministry and many years of part time ministry in churches. He has led churches through start-up and recasting of vision. Now He resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is working to help smaller churches and believers to renew their hearts and regain the joy of the Lord.

2 thoughts on “Avoid Fretting (1 Cor 7:18-20)

    1. We should not get anxious about it (Phil 4:6-7). However, we can agree with God that these behaviors are wrong. Paul wrote that God will judge those outside the church for their sin and believers are to maintain the purity of the church (1 Cor 5:9-13).


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