Growing up I lived in Eastern Europe, and there was a small grocery store where I was terrified to shop. The grumpy cashiers would snap at you and sometimes refuse your business if you didn’t have exact change! The customer was not always right, apparently. In contrast, there is a mentality in the United States of the rights we deserve—happiness, security, freedom, justice, a great parking spot—that we often elevate as our highest priorities.
In this passage, Paul foregoes his right to receive financial support from the Corinthian church for a greater purpose.
- Where in our culture do you see people prioritizing their personal rights?
READ THE WORD: 1 CORINTHIANS 9:15-18 (ESV)
15 But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing these things to secure any such provision. For I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of my ground for boasting. 16 For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship. 18 What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.
- What word did Paul use in verse 17 to describe his responsibility to preach the gospel? What does this word imply?
- What was most important to Paul: his rights or his stewardship? Why do you think this is true?
- For what greater purpose did Paul set aside his rights?
- What rights are you entitled to that provide comfort and sustainability to your life? Which rights are most important to you? Are you willing to set them aside?
- What are some things in your life that are helping the proclamation of the gospel? What are some things that are hurting it?
RESPOND TO GOD
It’s important for us to look at what we prioritize in our hearts and lives, just as Paul did. He didn’t preach for any personal gain, other than the fulfillment of God’s work in his life—this is what he boasts. Each of us has a calling and a responsibility to share the message of the gospel. It’s incredibly easy to become distracted by the things that we have rights to, even good things, but we must not forget the most important role we have to play is that of ambassadors for Christ. Your life and how you live matters, because you represent Christ to the world.
- Ask the Lord to help you put your priorities in the right places.
- Ask the Lord to help you see the ways that the gospel is being represented well in your life as
- well as the areas where you need to grow.