1 Corinthians 9 – The Compelling Gospel

Sigh. Well, here I am again, a long time since my last Quiet Time entry. I’ll spare you the excuses, suffice to say the Spirit has been prompting me, I’ve just been ignoring it for too long. Last night’s midweek lesson pushed me over the edge to where I couldn’t any more.
1 Corinthians 9:2 – “If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you, for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.” Reading this in the ESV struck me – “… you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.” he says. Paul got validation of his identity in the Lord from those he had impacted for Christ.
1 Corinthians 9:15-18 – Paul in the preceding verses lays out a defense of ministers of the gospel being compensated. It is in no way wrong for a man to reap a material benefit from his work for the Gospel. But in these verses he states that, though he has the right to, he refuses to do so. He will not let it be said that he preaches for profit. His reward is in presenting the gospel freely.
What is the lesson here? Ministers, if you could not earn a living by preaching, would you still preach, even as you worked another job? Is your reward not in the paycheck but in the presentation of the gospel itself? It’s easy to say as a layman, but it’s a question that ought to be asked. For me and others like me, do I live for this world (paychecks and achievements) or is my reward in the gospel as well?
Paul thrived on the gospel and sharing it, frankly I don’t. That tells me that the gospel isn’t nearly real enough to me, it’s too conceptual or theoretical. It’s too nice. The reality of the gospel is that the God who created gravity and put boundaries around the oceans came down to rescue me because he wanted me. I couldn’t – and, frankly, wouldn’t – have made my way to him, so he came down. I was desperately broken and utterly depraved, but despite that, having me with him was important enough for him to humble himself and come and rescue me. That’s the gospel that’s compelling and one that must be shared. I need to think on it more so that it becomes irresistible, like it was to Paul. Take a look at what he says next:

For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

1 Corinthians 9:19-23

The gospel was so compelling to him, so important to share, that what he was became secondary, in fact trivial. We are so concerned about who we are, but Paul didn’t care at all what he was, as long as he could share the gospel. If it meant getting the gospel out to more people, he’d become anything it took.
I want it to be that real to me, so real that it changes everything, that it changes even who I am.

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