Tuesday, 16 September 2014
For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 1 Corinthians 9:19
The word “for” begins Paul’s thought. It is then building upon his previous discussion. He said that he preached through “necessity,” as one bound under a master and that his reward was solely in the preaching of the gospel. Hence, “for” shows an extra weightiness in what he will now say. “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all.”
Paul had no person that he was bound to. He was a Roman citizen and thus free within the Roman society. He was also liberated from the bondage of the law by Christ and had no person over him in Jerusalem. He was not accountable to the Sanhedrin or to the high priest. He had no boss over him. Instead, he made tents while working with his own hands. And he preached the gospel without recompense from those he preached it to. Thus, he was not bound to any person or group within the church. He was free from obligation to any and all humans as far as a society could consider a person.
And yet, despite his exceptional freedoms, he willingly made himself “a servant to all.” The word translated as “servant” is douloo and is more appropriately to be rendered “slave” in this context – “I have enslaved myself to all.” What would be the reason for such a choice? Why would this man, free from all constraints, decide to treat everyone around him as a master to whom he was indebted? His reason shows a beautifully pure desire for that which freed him on the road to Damascus – “that I might win the more.”
The sole desire of Paul’s life of work and toil was to bring others to Christ. His refusal to accept payment was because he was showing his status as one who is actually a slave to Jesus Christ. In this position, he was thus allowing himself to be considered a slave to any and all who might call on Him. It is the mark of a truly selfless individual who understood what it meant to be “in Christ” both for himself and those around him.
Life application: To what extent are you willing to spread the gospel? Are you willing to give up on sleep in order to get up early and prepare for the day’s battle? Are you willing to forgo lunch if it means an opportunity to tell someone about your faith. Will you give up on payment for your efforts, or will you even be willing to spend money out of your own pocket to share your faith? What is Christ worth to you? At one time you were without Him, but someone took the time to lead you to Him. Now that right and privilege is yours. Don’t squander it!
Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help
Whose hope is in the Lord his God
Who made heaven and earth
Even the beautiful earth where man does trod
Also He made the rich and abundant sea
And all that is in each of them as well
He is the great and wondrous God of glory
As the wisdom of His creation does tell
He is the God who keeps truth forever
Who executes justice for the oppressed
Who gives food to the hungry
The Lord to weary souls He gives rest
Lord, who is it that can look up into the heavens and not see Your wisdom on display? Who is it that fails to see Your marvelous hand in the many creatures that walk the earth? Lord, who can deny the intricacy of how all the earth is balanced ever so perfectly so that even its wounds are healed and new life springs from them? Lord, open the eyes of such a person and show them that You are there, calling to them. Reveal Yourself and Your majesty by opening eyes that are blind. Amen.