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What then is my reward? That when I preach the gospel I may offer the gospel free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights in the gospel. For since I am free from all I can make myself a slave to all, in order to gain even more people. To the Jews I became like a Jew to gain the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) to gain those under the law. To those free from the law I became like one free from the law (though I am not free from God’s law but under the law of Christ) to gain those free from the law. To the weak I became weak in order to gain the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that by all means I may save some. I do all these things because of the gospel, so that I can be a participant in it. Do you not know that all the runners in a stadium compete, but only one receives the prize? So run to win.
I’ve heard it said that the “race” referred to in these verses is not a race of speed, but of endurance. Consider today the impact of recognizing what Paul has been saying in the surrounding context. Paul is a man captured and made free by Christ. This freedom results in service to God where Paul is constantly challenged to re-shape himself and the offering of the gospel to different audiences while maintaining the integrity of the message; ultimately winning souls for Jesus. Paul became whatever God needed him to be at the time to preach the gospel. Are you able to change for God?
If we sowed spiritual blessings among you, is it too much to reap material things from you? If others receive this right from you, are we not more deserving?But we have not made use of this right. Instead we endure everything so that we may not be a hindrance to the gospel of Christ. Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple eat food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar receive a part of the offerings? In the same way the Lord commanded those who proclaim the gospel to receive their living by the gospel. But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing these things so that something will be done for me. In fact, it would be better for me to die than—no one will deprive me of my reason for boasting! For if I preach the gospel, I have no reason for boasting, because I am compelled to do this. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward. But if I do it unwillingly, I am entrusted with a responsibility.
Basically, Paul is saying to the church at Corinth that it is right for him (and others) to accept payment from them for preaching the gospel. Paul lays down this right “rather than hinder the gospel of Christ”. (vs. 12). By refusing payment, Paul is placing on display that he is compelled to preach by Christ. This leaves no room for others to question the integrity of the gospel message. Paul doesn’t get paid to preach, he preaches to receive a reward from His father in Heaven. 1 Cor. 22 says, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.”
The price for our lives was the life of Jesus Christ. In believing in Christ, we have received the Holy Spirit to live within us. This is the same Holy Spirit that makes up one of the three persons of the Triune God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). Today, consider how you ought to live knowing that God is with you always. How should you honor God with your body? Take care of yourself and do not offer your body to sin and the desires of the flesh, but to God as a living sacrifice that brings glory to His name. (Romans 12:1)
Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not covet,” (and if there is any other commandment) are summed up in this, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Motivation to Godly Conduct And do this because we know the time, that it is already the hour for us to awake from sleep, for our salvation is now nearer than when we became believers. The night has advanced toward dawn; the day is near. So then we must lay aside the works of darkness, and put on the weapons of light. Let us live decently as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in discord and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to arouse its desires.
Engaging in the “deeds of darkness” (vs. 12 NIV) consistently fails to save us. These things bring us an ever-increasing emptiness that can only be filled by God. Receiving the love of God transforms who you are. Light (truth) hits the darkness (lies), and the Holy Spirit goes to work clearing out the junk that allows for shadows of darkness to survive. Loving others like Christ loves us IS LIFE! Believing in Christ we gain eternal life, but also experience the freedom to choose life and truth over lies and death on a daily basis. Jesus won the war, and we do not battle alone.
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how fathomless his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord,or who has been his counselor? Or who has first given to God, that God needs to repay him? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever! Amen.
In these verses we come up against the sheer magnitude of God. Today, consider and pray about “the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God”. (vs. 33 NIV) The challenge is to see accurately your own substance and talents alongside those of God. We are the created: the dust come to life by His breath. If anything lives in us, it is “from him and through him and for him” (vs. 36); ultimately for his glory. We cannot offer anything to God except that which He designed us to offer. The cross of Christ ignites our hearts for His will, and compels us with His love.