Summary: understanding that you have an impact!!
1st Corinthians 9:1-2
Today Paul is building on the same principles we talked about last week. All of these are in the gray areas in Christian living. We do find Christians divided on issues of freedom like…
Drinking alcoholic beverages;
Smoking or chewing tobacco;
Playing and/or watching sports on Sunday;
Styles of music (I grew up hearing how evil rock music was);
Going to the theater;
Going to the movies
The practice of meditation;
Styles of dress;
Playing the lottery
Having Christmas trees; telling your children the story of Santa verses the birth of Christ
Making Easter eggs; telling the story of a bunny verses Christ death, burial, and resurrection
worshiping on Sunday verses Saturday
and today we add a new one and that is the rights of the pastor
In regards to the gray areas of our faith or understanding of God’s will for our lives; Paul in this chapter is using himself as an illustration. It might seem as if Paul has went off on some tangent about the need of pastors being paid and that it is a biblical teaching, but I do not believe this is the context of his message. No doubt Paul says the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel. (9:14)
This isn’t the first time we see this in the New Testament, even Jesus says in Matthew 10:10 that those who minister are to be cared for.
Why, Moses wrote in the book of Deuteronomy 25:4 “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” The point of this Old Testament regulation was to keep the ox from eating while it was working. Paul uses it as an illustration more than once to argue people who are productive in Christian work should not be denied its benefits—that is financial support.
Now I say all this to not mislead anyone with where I am going with this sermon. This expression of Paul’s policy for financial support is to prove his case of dying to ones liberty or freedom in Christ to give God the glory and to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ without offending any weaker brother or sister in Christ or hindering the spread of the gospel. Paul in this chapter is proclaiming his rights as a follower of Christ, an apostle, a free man with no stranglehold of sin on his life and who is no longer bound by the law, yet he denies himself of these rights in order to achieve a higher goal.
Paul used himself as an illustration to teach them and us the mature use of our liberty in Jesus.
Now to look at our verses again we must not miss the obvious in our scriptures. Paul asks four rhetorical questions that would all be answered in the affirmative. The reason for this, Paul is asserting his apostolical mission and authority that comes with liberty in Christ and proclaims his validity through testimony of his success among those at the church of Corinth. Their conversions reassured Paul of his mission. They were the seal of his apostleship.
This is the verse that continued to play over and over in my mind. (Discipleship, discipleship, discipleship.) How are we doing in our discipleship? What is the seal of our apostleship? Every one of us should be able to answer Paul’s questions in the affirmative… wouldn’t you agree? Don’t we have the same freedom in Christ as they did? Have we not at least once seen Jesus at work not only in the church but in our personal lives? Have you seen any seals lately though that reassures you that God is still working through the church or working in and through your life?
You know as we study Paul, he is a great illustration for us today as he was for the Corinthians way back then. This is a guy who defiantly was on the wrong track and yet very zealous about his lifestyle. Even though Jesus turned him on the right road, he was still met with opposition from those outside of the church as well from those within the church. People questioned his apostleship, false brethren tried to sink his reputation and people questioned his character… can you imagine the discouragement.
How many of you have had some similar experiences as Paul? I can tell you as a pastor and as a Christian that I have and all of my pastor friends shares stories of how they are meet with unkindness, discouragement, and with lack of zeal and trust for the passion that God lays on their hearts.
Even though the church at Corinth was confirmation that Paul was doing God’s will, still there were some who seemed to need more evidence of Paul’s authority. How many of us today, need that? How many of us today, need more evidence of God’s call on your life before you can, answer that call?