Being a servant to all with compassion and understanding. Not despising the liberties of others in Christ and not abusing my own liberty. Bringing my self into subjection with temperance in all things. These are ideas I’m meditating on today after reading 1 Corinthians 9.
I would need to read the eight chapters before this one to make sure I understand the full context of this chapter. At the start, it seems that Paul has been criticized because he took food, drink, and other necessities that were offered to him during his service. I’m sure there is more here to this story, but even so, there are some ideas that stand out for me towards the second half of the chapter.
Take a look, read each line carefully, and consider what you might take away from this:
1 Corinthians 9
Am I am not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord?
2 If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord.
3 Mine answer to them that do examine me is this,
4 Have we not power to eat and to drink?
5 Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?
6 Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working?
7 Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?
8 Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also?
9 For it is written in the law of Moses, thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?
10 Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.
11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?
12 If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ.
13 Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?
14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.
15 But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void.
16 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!
17 For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.
18 What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.
19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.
20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;
21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.
22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
23 And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.
24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:
27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
My Takeaway From 1 Corinthians 9
I’m no apostle, but I do want to be a good Christian. As someone who writes about things pertaining to the gospel, however, in what ways am I lacking in Paul’s approach? Am I being all things to all men? How might I approach people differently so that some of all brands of Christianity and those outside of the faith might come to the Lord more fully?
Am I living the gospel as well as I could? I certainly don’t want to be a hearer and writer of the word only. We are to be “doers of the word.” How might I apply the teachings of Jesus to my life better?
What about the liberty we have in Jesus? I don’t think we should ever use our liberty as an excuse for sin, but there are many things that are a matter of personal conscience. Am I too critical of these things? What about my own liberties? Do I flaunt them around and do things that would cause those who are weaker in the faith to stumble?
How can I be a servant to all better? Every person, believer or not, is a creation of God. Do I treat them as such? Do I consider the needs of those around me above my own? Bring this around to the first point about being all things to all men. I see this as being someone who is empathetic and meets people where they are. If I did this better, I would be a better servant. I would be a much better representative of Jesus, and I would do a much better job at communicating the gospel and his teachings.
Then there is temperance. Using the liberties we have in Jesus righteously, empathizing with where all people are in their individual walk with God (or lack there of), and being a servant to others instead of serving myself will defiantly require temperance (or moderation and self-control, if you’re not sure what that word means). This also requires a lot of love, and we know that love covers a multitude of sin.
Then there is Paul’s mentioning of being a castaway. If Paul the apostle of the Lord and author of most of the New Testament considered that he could be a castaway, who am I? Of course I want to trust the Lord and have faith in my salvation in Jesus, however, I do not want to take it for granted either. This should fill us all with a little bit of productive fear of the Lord. He is merciful, patient, and he will complete his work in us. Even so, we should never take our salvation for granted and we each need to work out our individual walk with all sincerity and reverence for God, knowing that there are going to be many castaway because of their hard hearts and unbelief.
As for me, I need some serious divine intervention from the Lord to help me in these things. It’s always easier to write about the things of God and consider them then it is to actually perform His ways. With faith, if we push on and keep seeking Jesus to help us and remain honest with ourselves and with the Lord about our sinful struggles, we will get better and better at performing the righteousness we believe in. It is a promise of the Lord and the birthright of our salvation and inheritance as children of God.
Wrapping This Up
There is always so much to learn and ways in which we can grow as Christians. If Jesus is priority in our lives and we seek after him and study his word, we can’t help but learn and come into greater communion with God and His ways. What a joy this Christian journey is! Do you have thoughts you’d like to share about this chapter? Is there any way I can be of service to you on your journey as a Christian?