Summary: God wants us to set aside our likes and preferences for the benefit of those who don’t know Him yet.

“Saved to Save”

1 Corinthians 9:16-23

Who has ever heard of Harriet Tubman before? Her story is an exciting one. She was a runaway slave who was able to get to the north with the help of some sympathetic people both white and black. She was so thankful for the help that she had received that she decided to risk her own life to become a conductor on the famous Underground Railroad. Although she could neither read nor write and was rather frail, she was bold in her efforts to assist escaped slaves in getting safely beyond the Mason Dixon line. In her many years of service, she made nineteen trips and freed over 300 former slaves, including several of her own family members.

As Christians, we are in a similar situation as Mrs. Tubman. We too have escaped a slavery of sorts. We have escaped the slavery of sin. We no longer are headed on the highway to hell but because of Jesus’ death on the cross we too have hitched a ride on the Freedom Train. A train headed for our heavenly home. Is that it though? Is that where the similarity ends? Or is there more?

For many Christians, sadly, that is where the similarity ends. Many have escaped from their own slavery and they are content to be free. Many have run the race to freedom and rested on their laurels. Many have accepted the help of others in obtaining their liberty and have failed to reach back and lend a helping hand to others. You know, Harriet could have done that too. But then three hundred people might not have enjoyed the freedom she had. Three hundred people might have been held within the prison of slavery. Three hundred people may have remained in the clutches of ignorance with no future.

Were her efforts worth it? What do you think Harriet would have said? Consider a couple of facts before you answer that question. First of all, when her funds ran low, Harriet would hire herself out as a domestic servant in order to make more trips south. Secondly, in 1850 when the Fugitive Slave Law was passed she no longer just delivered the escaped slaves to Philadelphia, New York or Boston as she had. She felt that she could no longer trust Uncle Sam with her people any longer so she took them all the way to Canada. Do you think she thought her efforts were worth it?

The apostle Paul has a similar mindset to that of Harriet Tubman. He writes in 1 Corinthians chapter 9, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” He was willing to do whatever it took to save whomever he came in contact with. Paul, in his letter to the Romans, goes even farther. He writes, “I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my fellow human beings.”

Why did Paul say that? Why would he wish such a thing? What prompted that level of emotion? What provoked that degree of commitment? The answer is found in the last verse of our text. Paul writes, “I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” Paul was essentially saying that as he shared the Gospel message with others his faith was strengthened. He then became an even more faithful servant of Christ. He realized, as he explained the Christian faith to others, that he began to understand it even better. In addition, he became even more convinced of the power of the Word of God as he saw others come to faith. Paul loved others so much that he was willing to do whatever it took to help them come to faith as well. To use the old cliche, “Love isn’t love until you give it away.”

It is similar to the first two servants in Jesus’ parable of the talents. You remember the story. The servants who had received the five and two talents had invested them wisely. When their master called for them and asked for the money in return the master was overjoyed to see how wisely his servants invested the resources available to them. He said to them “well done, good and faithful servant.” Since they had been faithful with a few things they would be given even more blessings. The master said, “for everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance.” God wants us to use His gifts so that He can give us even more. You can’t out-give God. We have to be careful though. We don’t want to fall into the trap where we give in order to get. However, I’m sure that we’ve all at one time or another thought, “Hey, I’ve got to hold onto what I have because I don’t know if God will take care of me or not.” But God has promised to take care of us and He will. So keep helping others. It’s like that old Doritos commercial, “crunch all you want, we’ll make more.” That’s the way it is with God. He wants you to help others with the gifts He has given you so that He can continue to bless you.

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