Summary: This is the tenth of a series of sermons based on scriptures where a rhetorical question beginning with the phrase "Do you not know. . ." is asked. This sermon deals with the rhetorical question asked in 1 Corinthians 9:3-14. "Do you not know that those
Series: Do You Not Know?
Sermon: Denying Self For the Sake of the Gospel
Text: 1 Corinthians 9:3-14.
Have you heard of the mischievous monkey? He was running loose and getting into people’s houses and stealing food. Try as they may, the town’s people could not capture the monkey. One man had an idea. He got a very large jar with a very narrow neck and put some peanuts in the jar. The monkey noticed the jar and looked inside. He reached his hand into the jar to grab the peanuts, but with his fist clenched tightly, he could not remove his hand from the jar. But he refused to let go of his prized catch and so he was captured.
Aren’t we sometimes a lot like that monkey? We’re that way with our rights. We are unwilling to relinquish our rights, even when the cost of holding on is too great.
The Nature of Rights.
We live in a culture deeply concerned with rights. We have legal rights. Our constitution grants us certain rights. The first ten amendments are called the “Bill of Rights.” We have the right to practice any religion we choose without governmental interference. We have the right to speak freely against government policies. We have the right to bear arms, etc. The courts have determined that we have additional rights not delineated by the constitution, such as the right to privacy. Some of our elected officials seem to believe that there is a right to hide evidence of wrongdoing in their congressional offices. In Acts 25:11 Paul appealed to his rights as a Roman citizen to have his case heard by Caesar. We have human rights. Hospital patients have the “Patient’s Bill of Rights”. Taxpayers have the “Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights”. There’s Women’s Rights and Children’s Rights and even Animals have rights. One of the most important rights is the right to life; yet this most basic of human rights is being denied to the weakest members of our society; those can not speak up for themselves, the unborn children being aborted on an unprecedented scale.
As Christian’s we believe that ultimately the most important of these rights come from God. We have been created by God in the image of God. Because you, my brother or sister, have been created in God’s image I owe you a certain amount of respect. Human life has dignity because we have been made in God’s image. We are not mere animals. We are God’s special creation.
The Right to be Paid.
In the scripture under consideration this evening, Paul lays out the case for the right to be paid for one’s labor. Paul is establishing the right for those who labor in the gospel to receive their living from the gospel. I believe the case could be made for other endeavors as well, but Paul is limiting his case because his right to earn his living from the gospel has been called into question.
Paul’s appeal to human authority and natural law. Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Slaves do not make very good soldiers; they are more likely to cut and run. Consider for a moment our own soldiers. We have an all volunteer army. We pay our soldiers. Not very well, considering; but they are paid. They put their lives on the line to protect our freedoms from tyrants who have no qualms about stripping us of our rights or violating our rights. We owe our soldiers more than money could ever pay. We considerate a duty to pay our soldiers.
Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? A farmer plants his crops in expectation of the harvest. He has a right to expect something for his efforts. Sometimes his efforts are fruitless, too much rain, not enough rain, many other conditions can lead to crop failure. Yet who would plant, knowing that there would be no harvest. I believe that what Paul is alluding to is taxation. There would be revolt and revolution if the government had a 100% tax. We complain then the sales tax goes from 5 to 5.5 percent. Or is the income tax goes from 15 to 20 percent. Or when property taxes go up a fraction. In 2006, Tax Freedom day was April 26th. That means from January 1 to April 26, everything you’ve earned has gone to pay your taxes. This past week I had to rent a car. I got a great rate at $15 per day; $60.00 for the four days I would need it. But when I got the bill, it was over $90.00! Tax on a rental car at the Atlanta Airport is over 50%. But 50% is a whole lot better than 100%!
Who tends a flock without getting some of the milk? Is that too much to ask? Someone has been tending the flock for you all day long. Would you begrudge them a glass of milk? Would that be right? Would that be fair? Listen to what James says to those who are not adequately paying their workers: 1 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. 2 Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. 4 Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. 5 You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned; you have murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you. (James 5:1-6).