Is the gospel worth paying for?
Read / Listen to the chapter:
Read the chapter in an outlined format
1 Corinthians 9 (ESV)
1 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord?
2 If to others
I am not an apostle,
at least I am to you,
for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
3 This is my defense to those who would examine me.
4 Do we not have the right to eat and drink?
5 Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife,
as do the other apostles
and the brothers of the Lord
6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living?
7 Who serves as a soldier at his own expense?
Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit?
Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk? 8
Do I say these things on human authority?
Does not the Law say the same?
9 For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.”
Is it for oxen that God is concerned?
10 Does he not certainly speak for our sake?
It was written for our sake,
because the plowman should plow in hope
and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop.
we have sown spiritual things among you,
is it too much if we reap material things from you?
others share this rightful claim on you,
do not we even more?
we have not made use of this right,
rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ.
13 Do you not know that
those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple,
and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings?
14 In the same way,
the Lord commanded that those
who proclaim the gospel
should get their living by the gospel.
15 But I have made no use of any of these rights,
nor am I writing these things to secure any such provision.
For I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of my ground for boasting.
16 For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting.
For necessity is laid upon me.
Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!
17 For if I do this of my own will,
I have a reward,
but if not of my own will,
I am still entrusted with a stewardship.
18 What then is my reward?
That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge,
so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.
19 For though I am free from all,
I have made myself a servant to all,
that I might win more of them.
→ 20 To the Jews
I became as a Jew,
in order to win Jews.
To those under the law
I became as one under the law
(though not being myself under the law)
that I might win those under the law.
21 To those outside the law
I became as one outside the law
(not being outside the law of God
but under the law of Christ)
that I might win those outside the law.
22 To the weak I became weak,
that I might win the weak.
I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.
23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel,
that I may share with them in its blessings.
24 Do you not know that in a race
all the runners run,
but only one receives the prize?
So run that you may obtain it.
25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things.
They do it to receive a perishable wreath,
but we an imperishable.
26 So I do not run aimlessly;
I do not box as one beating the air.
I discipline my body and keep it under control,
lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
1 Corinthians 9 Summary
This chapter might easily be dismissed as being irrelevant to your life. It seems like Paul is simply asserting the fact that he deserved to be paid for the work he did, even though he wasn't asking to be. What does this possibly have to do with the challenges you're going to face today?
Quite a bit, actually.
Think of the tremendous value that being fed with God's Word on a weekly basis imparts to your life. It doesn't just build you up personally & spiritually, but it also blesses you materially in how you're equipped to glorify God in your work (read about the effect the Protestant work ethic has had on western civilization).
All though this value is often imparted for no cost, it's a value that's worth paying for. Paul writes,
If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you (v11)?
The support you give to your local church enables the hard work it takes to continue feeding you each week as well as making this life defining gospel available to the entire community free of charge.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it (v24).
A top-tier athlete spends every moment of her life honing her sport, letting it dictate what she eats and how long she sleeps, lifting weights, running drills, and constantly thinking about how she can improve her game just a little bit more.
This is the same attitude Paul tells you to take in regard to your Spiritual Disciplines. Spiritual Disciplines are activities - things you do - that lead to attitudes - things you feel, such as peace.
Once again today, you're encouraged to go into "strict training" so that you can "get a crown that will last forever (v25)."
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father in heaven, whose name is holy.
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that you will run in such a way that you will win the prize - the reward God desires to give you (v24).
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: