grovesinthemist


What is more important to you: your personal, spiritual, and ministry rights, or the integrity and advancement of the gospel of Jesus Christ?
Don’t be too quick to say it’s the gospel.
Over several decades in ministry, I’ve discovered there are not as many Christians and church leaders as you might think who walk the walk when it comes to laying aside their legitimate human and spiritual rights for the sake of the gospel. Yes, many pastors preach it on Sundays, but how they live is often quite different. It’s the fruit of the “professionalism” of Christian leadership. 
A question dating back to Paul
This was the primary question facing Paul—would he fight for his personal and spiritual rights, or would he choose to lay them down for the integrity and advancement of the gospel? Paul’s answer, found in 1 Corinthians 9, is “yes,” and he lived it out in his ministry.
The primary issue facing Paul in 1 Corinthians 9 was that certain church leaders in the city of Corinth were questioning, accusing, and opposing Paul (1 Corinthians 9:3). How could these latecomers to church leadership question Paul? They apparently wanted to build themselves up in Corinth by undercutting Paul.
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Paul said he would rather die than get robbed of his ability and grounds to boast in Christ. 
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Paul spends a good part of this chapter emphasizing that he’s free in Christ (9:1), that the risen Christ had commissioned him as an apostle on the Damascus road (9:1), he was the founding apostle of the Corinthian church (9:2), and he also provides a rather long list of personal and spiritual leadership rights that were his. In other words, he had authoritative rights! Paul had the “right” to confront, attack, and start a huge fight with these would-be leaders, and he would have likely won with no problems. How dare anyone question Paul’s apostolic calling and credentials! After all, he has rights! He could have decided to take a strong stubborn stand in defense of his personal rights, blow up the church in Corinth, and leave it in ashes. But this is not how Paul responded.  
Paul’s primary concern
His primary concern was not his personal reputation or rights, but the reputation, integrity, and advancement of the gospel of Christ.
He chose to endure all the accusations rather than put an obstacle in the way of Christ’s gospel (1 Corinthians 9:12).  
Paul said he would rather die than get robbed of his ability and grounds to boast in Christ (1 Corinthians 9:16).  
He would rather preach the gospel for free than be accused of advancing the kingdom of God as a job (1 Corinthians 9:18).  
Paul declared himself to be a servant, one without personal rights, so he could lead anyone and everyone to Christ (1 Corinthians 9:19). 
Think about the question
Let me end with the question I began with. What is more important to you: your personal and spiritual rights, or the integrity and advancement of the gospel of Jesus Christ? Don’t answer this question too fast. Think about it for a while. May God’s grace help us all to follow Paul’s ministry example. For this is the way of the kingdom of God, and blessed are those who find it and live it.

What is more important to you: your personal, spiritual, and ministry rights, or the integrity and advancement of the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Don’t be too quick to say it’s the gospel.

Over several decades in ministry, I’ve discovered there are not as many Christians and church leaders as you might think who walk the walk when it comes to laying aside their legitimate human and spiritual rights for the sake of the gospel. Yes, many pastors preach it on Sundays, but how they live is often quite different. It’s the fruit of the “professionalism” of Christian leadership. 

A question dating back to Paul

This was the primary question facing Paul—would he fight for his personal and spiritual rights, or would he choose to lay them down for the integrity and advancement of the gospel? Paul’s answer, found in 1 Corinthians 9, is “yes,” and he lived it out in his ministry.

The primary issue facing Paul in 1 Corinthians 9 was that certain church leaders in the city of Corinth were questioning, accusing, and opposing Paul (1 Corinthians 9:3). How could these latecomers to church leadership question Paul? They apparently wanted to build themselves up in Corinth by undercutting Paul.

Paul said he would rather die than get robbed of his ability and grounds to boast in Christ. 

Paul spends a good part of this chapter emphasizing that he’s free in Christ (9:1), that the risen Christ had commissioned him as an apostle on the Damascus road (9:1), he was the founding apostle of the Corinthian church (9:2), and he also provides a rather long list of personal and spiritual leadership rights that were his. In other words, he had authoritative rights! Paul had the “right” to confront, attack, and start a huge fight with these would-be leaders, and he would have likely won with no problems. How dare anyone question Paul’s apostolic calling and credentials! After all, he has rights! He could have decided to take a strong stubborn stand in defense of his personal rights, blow up the church in Corinth, and leave it in ashes. But this is not how Paul responded.  

Paul’s primary concern

His primary concern was not his personal reputation or rights, but the reputation, integrity, and advancement of the gospel of Christ.

  • He chose to endure all the accusations rather than put an obstacle in the way of Christ’s gospel (1 Corinthians 9:12).  
  • Paul said he would rather die than get robbed of his ability and grounds to boast in Christ (1 Corinthians 9:16).  
  • He would rather preach the gospel for free than be accused of advancing the kingdom of God as a job (1 Corinthians 9:18).  
  • Paul declared himself to be a servant, one without personal rights, so he could lead anyone and everyone to Christ (1 Corinthians 9:19). 

Think about the question

Let me end with the question I began with. What is more important to you: your personal and spiritual rights, or the integrity and advancement of the gospel of Jesus Christ? Don’t answer this question too fast. Think about it for a while. May God’s grace help us all to follow Paul’s ministry example. For this is the way of the kingdom of God, and blessed are those who find it and live it.

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