As Christians, we are called to be willing to sacrifice for the sake of the Gospel. One way Paul describes the Christian’s sacrifice is a willingness to give up our rights for the sake of winning people to Christ. In 1 Cor. 9.1-27 Paul teaches that it is good and right for minister’s of the Gospel to be financially supported by the people they minister to. Paul normally took advantage of this right himself. However, when it came to his work with the Corinthians, Paul did not make use of this right. Paul likely did this so that he would not reinforce the prideful and materialistic priorities of the Corinthians. Paul is an example of someone who was willing to give up his rights in order to win people to Christ.
We focused on 9.17-27 where Paul highlights four aspects of sacrificing our rights for the Gospel that we are called to exhibit as Christians.
- A Willingness To Sacrifice. In v. 17 Paul speaks of the fact that he is completely willing to give up his rights for the sake of the Gospel. We have to ask ourselves if we are really willing to sacrifice. We tend to think our personal preferences are Gospel priorities, and we need to be willing to sacrifice capitalizing on these preferences if they hinder the Gospel message.
- The Wisdom Of Sacrifice. In vv. 18-22 Paul says that he is willing to become all things to all people to win some to Christ. It takes wisdom to evaluate which of our personal rights could be a hindrance to our Gospel ministry. Paul exercised wisdom as he adopted certain Jewish and Gentile practices depending on the context of his ministry. This does not mean that Paul sought to become cool or adopt immoral actions for the sake of the Gospel. Nor, does it mean that Paul compromised on the Gospel message by watering it down. Remember chapters 1-2 of 1 Corinthians where Paul unapologetically defends the offense of the cross in the Gospel message. Paul was, however, willing to flex as much as possible when it came to his personal preferences and rights.
- The Blessings Of Sacrifice. In v. 23 Paul speaks of the blessings of sharing in the Gospel. Paul does not begrudge his sacrifices; he rejoices in them. Paul has an eternal perspective which remembers the eternal blessings of sacrificing for the sake of the Gospel.
- The Discipline Of Sacrifice. In vv. 24-27 Paul compares the sacrificing of his rights to an athlete training for a competition. There are no shortcuts in Gospel ministry. We are called to train, persevere, and discipline ourselves as we share the Gospel. This also means that Paul did not just sacrifice for the sake of sacrificing. He sacrificed with a purpose: winning people to Christ.
If you need a copy of the sermon discussion questions, or the order of service from Sunday, here are the notes: 1 Cor. 9.1-27 Notes.
-Pastor Nathan Hogan