Saturday, 13 September 2014
For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! 1 Corinthians 9:16
In his previous words, Paul tied the very continuance of his life in with the preaching of the gospel. He does this elsewhere as well. In Philippians 1, he wrote that there were two paths ahead of him. One was to depart and be with Christ (meaning he would die) and the second was that he would remain and continue preaching the gospel and teaching those he was a minister to. Here are his words –
“I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.” Philippians 1:23-26
If his life was literally tied to the performance of his gospel preaching, then how could he boast in preaching? One cannot boast in taking breaths, one cannot boast in the beating of the heart, and one cannot boast in the need to eat food. These are necessary things for the continuance of the person. Likewise, Paul could not boast in the preaching of the gospel. It was to him simply a necessity. Jeremiah felt the same burden –
“Then I said, ‘I will not make mention of Him, Nor speak anymore in His name.’ But His word was in my heart like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, And I could not.” Jeremiah 20:9
Jeremiah could not hold back what he was impelled to do without dying. If he were to hold back from food, he would die. Likewise, if he held back from speaking out the word of the Lord, his end would come. This is what Paul felt as well. As he says, “for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!” As this was so, then how could he boast in his efforts in the gospel, the very thing that sustained his life? Rather, he had a boast in the gospel itself, not in his conveyance of it. In Galatians, he explicitly states this –
“But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Galatians 6:14
Life application: If you have been called by Christ, then you have a calling in Christ. The question is, have you allowed that calling to take root? A plant can only survive if it receives the nourishment it derives through its roots. And even if it survives, the amount it flourishes is derived externally as well – soil, water, sun, pruning, etc, all determine the health of the plant. Are you using your external sources properly – the Bible, prayer, fellowship, etc? Determine today to let nothing hinder you in developing your calling in Christ.
Heavenly Father, I know that a plant cannot be sustained unless it is fed through its roots. I also know that it can only flourish and thrive in good soil, the right amount of sun and water, and with proper pruning. As I know this by simply observing how the plant responds, then isn’t this a truth that applies to me as well? How can I thrive in my walk with You unless I drink from Your word, commune with You in prayer, and fellowship with others who can build me up? I know it cannot happen without these things, so please keep me in the good field which provides these things. Amen.