“If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more? Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 9:12 NKJV)
One of the criticisms from the church at Corinth that Paul dealt with was that he wasn’t good enough to earn a living from the gospel. Paul was a tentmaker and he continued to ply his trade as he traveled so that he wouldn’t be a financial burden on these new Christians. He considered it a point of pride that he was able to present the gospel without taking one drachma from the people. Others turned that point of pride around and, as they took in money from the church, noted that if Paul couldn’t make a living from the gospel, he probably wasn’t that good a preacher. Paul rattled off a list of rights that he had as one who proclaimed the gospel message and stated that he gave up all his rights in these areas to be able to preach without pay. He also reminded them that they owed their faith to the fact that he had built the church from the beginning. Those who were saying that Paul was not so important should have been shamed by Paul’s words here.
In a culture obsessed with our rights, Paul’s stance here is an important reminder that our ultimate goal is to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our job is not to win battles over our rights. Our job isn’t to be right in every argument. Our job is to share the love and grace of Jesus Christ to a world that needs to know Him. If it means we have to suffer the loss of some rights to do that, let’s do it. We need to share the word of God with all people no matter what our circumstances and no matter what the government situation may be. Paul spent his life for the sake of the gospel. He doesn’t ask everyone to have the same level of commitment, but he calls on them to respect his ministry and remember not only the great price he paid for the privilege of proclaiming the gospel, but also the great rewards that waited for him, and every believer who stayed true to God’s word.
Lord, I’m humbled as I think of all the men and women who have sacrificed everything, even their lives, for the sake of the gospel. Help me to be willing to give up my rights and privileges if needed for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ.