1 Corinthians 9
1 Corinthians 9:1-18-Paul now uses himself as an example of what he has just taught...of having certain “liberties” (8:9), certain rights (because of his apostleship), and yet yielding his rights for the good of others. He explains that it is appropriate for those who serve in the ministry to be financially compensated for their service. And, that this is the way the Lord has directed things to be (:7- 14). But then Paul says that in his case he has not done so...so that no one can suggest that he only serves for the money (:15-18)...or, so that someone who pays him might have control over him (:17). He gives us his rights...for the good of those he is trying to reach. He says that by doing so it frees him up to be a slave to all people, not just the one who is paying him. By this he means that he willingly submits himself to the types of matters discussed in chapter 8 (those things that disturb a spiritually immature believer) and will not be controlled by any one group. No one can dictate how he treats others...because they pay his salary (even though the Lord has said that it is his right to receive a salary). Because of this, he is free to associate with the Jews and feel no need to bow down to pressure from Gentiles to not do so. And, he can associate with the Gentiles and feel no need to bow down to pressure from the Jews to not do so. This applies to those who are “weak” in their spiritual maturity (:22; cf. 8:1-13). He is a slave because of obligation to no one...and yet, he has made himself a
slave by determination to every one (:19). And in all of this, his purpose is “the sake of the gospel”...to be able to most effectively win people to Christ...no matter what group they may be from. He tells his readers that they must be thoughtful and intentional in their efforts to win people to Christ. Like an athlete, they must discipline themselves so that they can serve most effectively...and not lose an opportunity to serve (:27). There are some things that may seem to offer security and achievement and recognition...but they inhibit the attainment of things of far more value. If I choose the wrong things...while I may get what I want...I may then be disqualified from the greater opportunities for service and rewards that God had in store for me.
Prayer: Lord, please help me to be more thoughtful in regards to the needs of other people...and not just think of myself. I'm sorry Lord, but sometimes I get so focused on ministry, that I allow it to be more important than the people I am ministering to. Please help me to discipline my life so that I will not be disqualified from serving You.