Journal 1 Cor 9 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: (Paul) “For I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of my ground for boasting. For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting—for necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!
For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship.
What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.” 1 Cor 9:15b-18
Observation: Preaching the gospel: Do I do it for a reward? Do I do it because I have been called to be a steward of the gospel? Or do I do it because I am driven (necessity has been laid upon me…)?
Analysis: What is it about this passage concerning preaching the Gospel? What point is the Holy Spirit saying about preaching the Gospel?
Right off the bat, I see three stated motivations: Reward, conviction of being a steward, or an irresistible drive.
If it were me, I would aspire to the “irresistible drive.” It seems like the one I would be most proud of. Next, it would be “stewardship”, and last it would be “reward” (because I chose to, exercising my personal will to preach the Gospel).
Which is best? I wonder if it is dependent on the stage of life I am in.
I remember previous chapters, especially Chapter 7, where it refers to single men vs. married: “The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife (as an example, comment is mine), and his interests are divided.” (1 Cor 7:32b-34) And when children are involved, boy, complications are even more. I remember when Jesus called the rich young ruler and he said to divest himself of his riches, and the young man couldn’t give it up. (Matt 19:20-22) Or how Jesus called a few guys to follow Him as disciples and they demurred, saying I have business to run, or I have to bury my father. (Luke 9:57-62)
Right or wrong responses all, I bring these up because they are examples of complications of life.
Therefore, perhaps there isn’t one answer that fits forever in the effort to walk worthy of the Gospel. (1 Thes 2:12) Maybe the irresistible drive is what we experience early, where we don’t have to do much to stir up the flame within (2 Tim 1:6).
But as our age, experience, and complications of life begin to impact our life, then we experience the conviction that I have been given a stewardship, a responsibility to manage outputs of the fact that “I am not my own, I have been bought with a price.” (1 Cor 6:19-20)
Then lastly, as the fires of youth subside with age and experience, the resulting coals burn with glowing embers, hot and long lasting, the conviction of faith, grown strong through the discipline of the Lord, becomes the standing reflex of my life to represent the strength and fact of the Gospel, heats the Church with wisdom gained from the Holy Spirit and continued study of the Gospel.
The Gospel isn’t just the invitation to salvation. It is the definition of the Plan of Redemption from before “Let there be light” through the establishment and continuation of the New Heavens and New Earth.
I remember Paul before Felix and Drusilla (Acts 24:24-25) where Felix wanted to hear what Paul had to say. Paul spoke about faith in Jesus but also expounded on righteousness, self-control, and the coming judgment. Why this isn’t stated plainly as the Gospel, I think that this is a clue that all of these subjects are related and integral to the Gospel.
Prayer: Father, let the embers of my heart glow brightly and with continued heat about You and the Gospel. Help me remember the Gospel through every subject and, in case I don’t see the Gospel within a topic, help me meditate until I am sure.
You are faithful, always faithful.
Ricky Two Shoes