Father, thank You for Your grace and Your goodness, Your mercy and love.
Read: 1 CORINTHIANS 9:1-18
 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not the result of my work in the Lord?  Even though I may not be an apostle to others, surely I am to you! For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.  This is my defense to those who sit in judgment on me.  Don’t we have the right to food and drink?  Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas?  Or is it only I and Barnabas who lack the right to not work for a living?  Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink the milk?  Do I say this merely on human authority? Doesn’t the Law say the same thing?  For it is written in the Law of Moses: “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” Is it about oxen that God is concerned? Surely he says this for us, doesn’t he? Yes, this was written for us, because whoever plows and threshes should be able to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you?  If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more? But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.  Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple get their food from the temple, and that those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar?  In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.  But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me, for I would rather die than allow anyone to deprive me of this boast.  For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!  If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me.  What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights as a preacher of the gospel.
Reflect: What is Paul’s challenge to the readers?
In the previous chapter, Paul asked the Corinthians not to exercise their rights since they were causing detriment to others. Here, Paul describes how he has given up rights, and points to his conduct both as a model for believers and as a means of defending his approach to ministry.
First Paul lists his rights (3-6); then he states the reasons for his rights (7-12). The key right in contention is his right to material and financial support from the Corinthian church. Paul’s work was motivated by a higher aim than money, and he did not exercise his rights when he worked among the Corinthians. The turning point comes in verse 15 where he fully renounces his rights, both for the past and the present. He would rather give up his rights, and be weak, than take any chance of having the motive driving his work misconstrued. The Gospel takes priority over personal benefit.
Letting go of personal benefit can be difficult. Paul finds his reward in not being rewarded. That way, his ministry to the Corinthians can be a free gift, like the Gospel. Living for God is more valuable than all of your rights and possessions.
Have you ever denied yourself something for the sake of another person? What was the result?
Father, thank You that You are near to us. You are near to Your children as we call.
Syndicated via Scripture Union, scriptureunion.org