16If I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel! 17For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward; but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission. 18What then is my reward? Just this: that in my proclamation I may make the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my rights in the gospel.
19For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them. 20To 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 I myself am not under the law) so that I might win those under the law. 21To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law) so that I might win those outside the law. 22To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. 23I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings. 1 Corinthians 9:16-23
As we continue to explore God’s call and our response, today we turn our attention to Paul’s response to God’s call that he preach the gospel. This passage comes after a lengthy discussion an argument within the Corinthian Church over whether they could eat meat offered to idols. Some said they were free to do whatever they wanted since through Christ they were granted freedom from the law. Besides, idols are the real, so no harm no foul. Others felt like it was a temptation and a breaking of law to eat the meat. Paul instead calls on them to be aware of the struggles of those who are weaker and more prone to temptation.
Some among the Corinthians had apparently called into question Paul’s credentials as an apostle. His unwillingness to let them feed and house him was seen as a sign that he was not a true apostle. After all, Jesus had said that his laborers deserved to be paid (Luke 10 among others). But Paul disagrees and points out that he is experiencing true freedom not by demanding his rights but by relinquishing them.
• As someone who struggled with her call to preach, I am struck by his comment, “Woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel!” In the end, I responded to God’s call because I came to the same conclusion! What does Paul’s observation mean to all baptized Christians?
• We hear lots of talk in our country about our individual rights? What does Paul’s teaching have to say to Christians in America today?
• Paul said that he became “all things to all people” so that some might be saved.
o What does it mean to be all things to all people?
o What does that mean we should be willing to give up?
o What, if anything, should we hold on to?
See you Sunday as we continue to explore more ways to respond to God’s call!