1 Corinthians 9:1-27
1 Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord?
2 If I am not an apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you. For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
3 My defense to those who examine me is this:
4 Do we have no right to eat and drink?
5 Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?
6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working?
7 Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock?
8 Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also?
9 For it is written in the law of Moses, “YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE AN OX WHILE IT TREADS OUT THE GRAIN.” Is it oxen God is concerned about?
10 Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope.
11 If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things?
12 If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more? Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ.
13 Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar?
14 Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.
15 But I have used none of these things, nor have I written these things that it should be done so to me; for it would be better for me to die than that anyone should make my boasting void.
16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!
17 For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship.
18 What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel.
19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more;
20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law;
21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law;
22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
23 Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.
24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.
25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.
26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.
27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
Now there is consideration of how their attitudes have even resulted in questioning the apostleship of Paul, and that maybe he isn’t worthy of any material care from them. While making the point that he very much is their dutiful servant and deserving of provision, according to both the scriptures and natural law, he emphasizes that it will never be for this that he serves. He speaks from the first person, but it seems to be as an example for all to follow. His whole life is consumed with pursuing ways of making the truth relevant to all he serves, with a motive of salvation for all. Rather than letting any self concern debilitate his effect, he brings his body into subjection, very purposefully, for the sake of the prize of their transformed lives.
What an example for us as we are challenged with opportunities to be offended or discouraged by interactions with others. With every putting off of these things with the help of the Spirit, there is maintenance for our own lives to be most helped and qualified by our message.
Paul’s life (after his eyes were opened) was lived out-totally abandoned to his own desires or wants. In fact, HIS desires became GODS desires FOR his life. His trust was completely in God supplying His needs. His heart was to serve people and preach the gospel. He knew there was a SPECIFIC way to run our race and obtain a prize. But not just “any way we chose,” there was a way to run our race, IN SUCH A WAY, that we would obtain the prize. He specifically said not to run with uncertainty…when we are uncertain about things, there are questions and open doors for the enemy to cause doubt and unbelief. He KNEW of the challenges and prodded us onward to be SURE IN WHOM WE BELIEVE IN! Challenges come to divert and knock us out of the race and off the path of belief in Him. His focus was the calling to be a good steward of the gospel. He did it willingly with no thought of reward, just faithful to serve. God was faithful to reward.
We too, have the choice to be good stewards of our calling and to share Christ with a lost world. If our focus is always on self consumption and what pleases us, we become just as the world…serving two masters. We, like Paul, should refuse to have sloppy lives and miss out on Gods best. Our best is through disciplined minds, bodies and spirits. Holy Spirit, help us to see how run our race well.
Paul became a servant to all in the name of Jesus and the business of His kingdom. Likewise, we are not just called to Jesus, we are called to advance the kingdom on His behalf and should be so like-minded. It is a truth that should be ever in front of us that we are to reach others and remain vigilant in not being self-focused.
I had to re-read. This chapter was hard for me, for some reason today. I have read it before. We are all worthy of His kingdom. We are all His children.
And he wants us to tell others. Our testimony is what’s important. There should be no judgments from one another. Show love and mercy to others as He did for us. I have been made new bc Jesus died for me. Spreading the Gospel and looking towards heaven. There are many times, I have to remind myself why I am doing it. For God, because I love Him and He loves me.