Summary: The Holy Spirit is hard at work in the lives of others. We need to make sure we are being a helper in the work of the gospel and not a hindrance.

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-Have you ever been judged unfairly by others?

-Has anyone ever looked down on you for something they thought you did?

-Have you ever received a punishment for something that you didn’t do?

-That is what the Apostle Paul is dealing with in chapter 9 of his first letter to the Corinthians

-A number of theologians think that this is an interpolation by a later editor

-I think they believe this because they don’t see how it fits into the wider discussion.

-In chapter 10, Paul picks up the discussion of food sacrificed to idols once again so it makes sense that this is an extension of the argument in chapter 8 not to eat food sacrificed to idols if it is harming the consciences of other Christians.

-Similarly, in chapters 12 and 14, Paul discusses the proper use of different spiritual gifts but in chapter 13 he talks about love. He uses the discussion on love to demonstrate how they should be using their spiritual gifts.

-By the end, my goal is that you see how it fits in and how this applies to us today. {PAUSE}

-When I was a young second lieutenant stationed at Ft. Riley, I had just arrived at the post in late June, early July after a year at Ft. Benning going through different training courses. Most of my battalion was off doing an exercise in Louisiana.

-When everyone returned we went through training up for and testing for the Expert Infantryman’s Badge and then my company was being deployed to Germany for a REFORGER exercise attached to a tank battalion.

-We went to Germany and our task force did not do very well in the exercise. Since it couldn’t possibly have been the tank commander’s fault for the poor execution, he told our battalion commander that we had not performed well.

-All of the lieutenants in the two companies that went were called in front of the commander and we were yelled at and threatened for about a half hour. A few minutes into the meeting, I was absolutely seething. I couldn’t believe it. I had been stationed at Ft. Riley for exactly five months and my military career was over because someone lied about me to save their own skin. When I cooled down, I was deeply hurt. {PAUSE}

-I can imagine that Paul felt a little like that in his dealings with the Corinthians. He had spent a year and a half with them and all that he had worked for was falling apart. The church was in turmoil. They were fighting each other and him. What a mess! He probably wanted to give up.

-That’s what I wanted to do. Believe me.

-I thought about it but my ego and self-respect wouldn’t allow that to happen.

-I weighed my options and realized that no matter how much I tried to explain what happened in Germany, I wasn’t going to matter. The only way to prove my commander “wrong” was to work my tail off and hope that he noticed.

-Fortunately, for my sake, we got a new company commander a month later who actually gave a rip about us. He was everything that our old commander was not. He taught us what all the infantry schools in the world could not. He really taught us how to do our jobs and started to fill us with confidence in what we were accomplishing. We started doing a lot better in our train up for our National Training Center rotation that winter.

-I also got a new platoon sergeant that was a hard-charger. He started cracking the whip on the younger NCOs and soldiers. My platoon ended up getting the top gunnery score in our battalion. I got a great gunner for my vehicle and we had the best score in the battalion in our gunnery practice scores.

-We again didn’t do particularly well in our exercise in the Mojave desert but at least this time, our task force commander couldn’t blame us for his demise, we had proven ourselves to be faithful. We had done all the right things. {PAUSE}

-Basically, that is what Paul is talking about in this chapter. He is explaining his actions. But why?

-In chapter 4, he alludes to what was happening in Corinth. He writes, “So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.”

-Apparently, some of the Corinthians were judging, condemning and looking down on Paul probably because of some of the things that were happening in their church. {PAUSE}

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