I’VE GOT MY RIGHTS!
God, make me more aware of the rights of others than of my own.
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? 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.” 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.
ReflectWhat are some choices you have made that inadvertently hurt others?
Public schools are charged to respect the rights of students. The pupils should know their rights according to the Constitution, and the school should ensure that these rights are upheld.
But sometimes the exercise of one person’s rights undermines the rights of someone else; for example, when someone’s right to express an opinion affects someone else’s right to practice their own culture or religion or leads to them being hurt in body or mind; or when there are not enough resources to allow all children to have food, clothing, a safe place to live or a good quality education.
Paul is aware of his rights as a leader within the church and as a preacher of the Gospel. However, he chooses to lay aside his rights, so that there is no hindrance to the Good News of Jesus being proclaimed, heard and responded to. In this, he follows the precedent of Jesus, who as Son of God has far greater rights; and he encourages us to do the same.
Read Philippians 2:5–8. How can you live out this passage today?
Lord, it is so easy to just choose my own way. Help me to consider others before I act rashly.
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