A Divine Duty
Lord God, open my heart to learn of Your heart, my mind to learn of Your mind, I pray.
1 Corinthians 9:1-18
Consider: "There are too many people ready to assert their rights who are not ready to assume their responsibilities" (Vance Havner, 1901-86).
Concerning knowledge and freedom, Paul gives a personal example. As an apostle (which certain Corinthians disputed!), he used his knowledge and freedom in such a way as to avoid being a stumbling block or burden to fellow Christians. That is why he renounced certain rights, such as eating and drinking as he pleased (8:13), being accompanied by a wife (5), or seeking the Corinthians' material support for his ministry to them (support to which natural justice and Scripture entitled him, 4,6-14).
Paul explains his reason for refusing to seek financial help from the Corinthian Christians: he is afraid that it might hinder the Gospel if he does (12). Perhaps he has in mind the famous orators who earned big money practicing their art among the philosophy-loving Greeks, for whom presentation was more important than content. An orator's success was measured in the fees he could command. (Our modern society is not the first to have a celebrity culture!) Paul would certainly not want to be tainted by comparison with such "stars." By supporting himself, he could offer the Gospel free from the accusation by his enemies that he was only in it for the money.
Paul thus demonstrates that money must not be the motivating factor behind any Christian worker's commitment to serve God full-time. Gospel ministry is a divine compulsion, not a human career choice! The privilege of being entrusted with such a ministry is already a reward in itself (17). Nevertheless, Paul makes a clear case for the responsibility of Christians to make adequate provision for the material needs of those who faithfully exercise a spiritual ministry on their behalf. It is a sad indictment of the church that this has not always been the case, perhaps particularly in the case of overseas missionaries.
Reflect on whether you could do more to provide support for God's servants who may be in need of your help.
Loving Father, it is a fine line between demanding my rights and renouncing my rights. I need Your wisdom in this matter.
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