February 19th, 2007
In today’s reading, Paul referred to various rights to which he was entitled, but which he had never exercised, because, as he said, he would rather put up with anything than put an obstacle in the way of the good news about Christ. If you’re living the life of a follower of Jesus, then your focus is no longer on yourself, your own rights and entitlements. Your focus is on serving others and passing on the good news. Your own rights and entitlements suddenly seem so small and unimportant when you understand that you are part of something so much larger and more important.
Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians — Chapter 9
9:1 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus Christ, our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? 9:2 Even if I am not an apostle to others, at least I am to you. You are the proof of my apostleship in the Lord. 9:3 My defence to those who question me is this. 9:4 Do we not have the right to eat and to drink? 9:5 Do we not have the right to take along a wife who is a believer, just like the rest of the apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Peter? 9:6 Or is it only Barnabas and I that have no right to refrain from work? 9:7 What soldier ever serves at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard, and does not eat its fruit? Or who feeds a flock, and does not drink from the flock’s milk? 9:8 Am I just giving a human opinion? Does not the law say the same thing? 9:9 In the law of Moses it says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it is threshing grain.” Is it just oxen that God cares about, 9:10 or does he say it entirely for our sake? Yes, it was written for our sake, because someone who plows and someone who threshes should do so in the hope of getting a share of the results. 9:11 If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much for us to reap worldly things? 9:12 If others claim a share of this right from you, do we not have a greater claim? But we did not use this right. We put up with anything to avoid causing an obstacle to the Good News of Christ.
9:13 Do you not know that those who perform sacred duties eat from the temple food, and those who serve at the altar have their share of things offered on the altar? 9:14 Likewise, the Lord instructs that those who preach the Good News should earn a living from the Good News. 9:15 But I have used none of these rights, and I am not writing this to ask you to do it for me. I would rather die than let someone make my boasting hollow. 9:16 If I preach the Good News I have nothing to boast about. I am compelled to do it. Woe to me, if I do not preach the Good News. 9:17 If I do this voluntarily, I deserve a reward, but if I am not doing it voluntarily, I am entrusted with a mission. 9:18 What is my reward? To present the Good News of Christ without charge when I preach, so as not to use my rights in the Good News.
9:19 Although I was free from being a slave to anyone, I made myself a slave to everyone, to win more of them. 9:20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, so I could win Jews. To people who are subject to the law I became like a person subject to the law, although I myself am not subject to the law, so I could win people who are subject to the law. 9:21 To people who do not have the law, I became like a person who does not have the law, although I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law, so I could win people who do not have the law. 9:22 To the weak I became weak so I could win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so I could at least save some. 9:23 I do all this for the sake of the Good News, so I can share in its results. 9:24 Do you not know that all the people in a race run, but only one wins the prize? Run like that, so you can win. 9:25 Every sportsperson exercises discipline. They do it to get a crown which decays, but we do it to win an indestructible crown. 9:26 So I do not run hesitantly, and when I box I do not flail my arms in the air. 9:27 I discipline my body and bring it under control to ensure that, after I have preached to others, I myself am not somehow disqualified.
Entry Filed under: Generosity