Tuesday in the Twenty-Third Week of Ordinary Time

1 Corinthians 9:15-23

When Necessity Becomes Freedom

We have noted before that the only truly free man in the world is the slave of Christ, while the only slave in the world is the man free (i.e., apart) from Christ.  In today’s passage, Paul ties up some lose ends regarding his apostleship and hence authority over these wayward Corinthians.  Do not doubt for one moment Paul’s love for them; it is out of love that he contended with and for them for so long.

Paul says several things in this passage that should make us all stop and think.  The first is: “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel.”  You see, Paul felt constrained to share the gospel with others.  Now I don’t think for a moment that he meant that this constraint was such that, had he had his way, he would rather not have preached the gospel; Paul wanted to preach the gospel.  Indeed, he was so passionate about the gospel that he wanted to be sure that when he preached, there was no cause for someone to mock, in this case, on account of his receiving remuneration there from.  Thus, Paul’s constraint to preach the gospel and his passion to do the same went hand in hand: that which bound him to preach the gospel was his very liberty, indeed, his passion.

And this constraint that he felt from his Lord and Master also set him at liberty to “become all things to all people, that by all means [he] might save some.”  Thus, since Paul received no patronage from the Corinthians or anyone else, he was free to offer the gospel to everyone without charge, and even free to do so on the terms of his listeners, as long as those terms did not compromise the gospel.  So to the Jew (those under the law), he became as one under the law—though not himself under the (Mosaic) law; to the Gentile (those without the law), he became as one without the law—though ever under the law of Christ.  To the weak he became weak—though we might add ever strong in the Lord, and to the strong we would have become strong—though knowing that it was only in his weakness that he was strong (2 Corinthians 12:10). 

The free man has only one passion, nothing else binding him; and the only passion worth binding oneself unto is the gospel of Jesus Christ.  This, Paul knew as he did everything for the sake of the gospel; and what’s more, “that [he] may share with them in its blessings,” that is, not they with him, but he with them.  What a statement of humility and of love, and it can only come from one with a heart so constrained and so free.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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