IT’S MY RIGHT!
Almighty God, my creator and sustainer, intensify my awareness of your love, and speak your will clearly to me now.
Read 1 CORINTHIANS 9:1-18
Paul’s Rights as an Apostle
9 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not the result of my work in the Lord? 2 Even though I may not be an apostle to others, surely I am to you! For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
3 This is my defense to those who sit in judgment on me. 4 Don’t we have the right to food and drink? 5 Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas[a]? 6 Or is it only I and Barnabas who lack the right to not work for a living?
7 Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink the milk? 8 Do I say this merely on human authority? Doesn’t the Law say the same thing? 9 For it is written in the Law of Moses: “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.”[b] Is it about oxen that God is concerned? 10 Surely he says this for us, doesn’t he? Yes, this was written for us, because whoever plows and threshes should be able to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. 11 If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? 12 If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more?
But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.
13 Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple get their food from the temple, and that those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? 14 In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.
15 But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me, for I would rather die than allow anyone to deprive me of this boast. 16 For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me. 18 What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights as a preacher of the gospel.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectThink of a time when you have felt unfairly treated. What did you feel? Why? Ask the Lord to speak to you through Paul’s story.
In chapter 8, Paul had explored the eating of meat offered to idols. He had encouraged more mature Corinthian Christians not to be stumbling blocks to weaker Christians, but to give up their freedom to eat such meat for the sake of those offended by them doing so (1 Corinthians 8:9). In Chapter 9, he uses his rights as an apostle to illustrate this further. In verse 12, he makes it clear that he did not push his own rights, in order not to hinder the gospel of Jesus, even though he could have done so (vs 4-6). In his argument, Paul is the stronger party and the Corinthian church the weaker.
What three sources does Paul use to support his argument (see verses 7-10,13 and finally v 14)? He clearly is not writing to make the Corinthians feel guilty (see verse 15). For Paul, preaching the gospel is not something he has a choice about: he is simply fulfilling Jesus’ call on his life (vs 16,17). He concludes his argument in verse 18. Look at that verse and summarize it in your own words.
Think of ways in church life where people try to demand their rights. In light of Paul’s argument, consider what should our response be?
Father, forgive me if I’m overly concerned with power, honor, and status. Open opportunities for me to serve you and others, freely and joyfully.
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