Love and Liberty
Paul in the previous chapter, had been teaching us that love constrains liberty. Just because you have the right to do something, doesn’t mean it’s always loving to do it. And in Chapter 9, we see Paul practicing what he preaches. He restricts his own freedom so that the gospel may go forth unhindered. Love constrains liberty in Paul’s life. He refuses and relinquishes his rights for the sake of others. Where does this desire come from in his life? How is it, in an entitlement culture when everyone else is demanding their rights, Paul surrenders his rights for the sake of others? Paul does this because the great burden of his life is that the Gospel might never be hindered. So Paul refuses to be compensated by the Corinthians for his ministry among them. He doesn't want anyone claiming that Paul is only in it for the cash. He wants the Gospel to come to them freely because it is a Gospel about a salvation that is free. Those who really grasp the wonder of the Gospel will do almost anything to get out of the way of the Gospel to let it come with full force and power for the good of others, even let go of their rights.
- Why is having the right to do something not sufficient justification to exercise that right?
- Why does Paul need to defend his apostleship to the Corinthians?
- Why do those who labor in preaching and teaching deserve to receive financial support from those they serve?
- What are examples of things Paul is free to do (has the right to do) but chooses not to for the sake of others? Contrast Paul’s attitude and behavior with our culture’s focus on individual rights and entitlement.
- How can we grow in concern for others and their spiritual welfare?
- What rights do you need to lay down so as to put no obstacle in the way of the gospel? It may be refusing to demand restitution, refraining from types of entertainment etc.