Christian Freedom: The Call to Sacrificial Responsibility
1Corinthians 9 April 13, 2003
“ And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, "Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?" But Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they went to another village.” (Luke 9:52-56 NIVUS)
“ Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!" While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: "The one I kiss is the man; arrest him." Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, "Greetings, Rabbi!" and kissed him. Jesus replied, "Friend, do what you came for." Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. "Put your sword back in its place," Jesus said to him, "for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:46-53 NIVUS)
Are you free in Christ? If you are in Christ, of course you are, since he said that he came to set you free. But how do we apply that freedom? That is the subject that we began in lasts week’s message in 1Cor. 8, “Christian Freedom: What’s Love Got To Do With It?”
In that message we talked about the tension between knowledge and love – that love is greater than knowledge and is the real fulfillment of it.
The situation in the Corinthian church was how those who were mature in the faith were to relate to those who were just emerging from paganism, and how the freedom of the mature could abuse the spiritual consciences of the weak in regard to the eating of meat sacrificed to idols.
Paul isn’t done with this subject yet. He has a personal application to make in regard to his own Christian freedom as an apostle. He plans to kill two birds with one stone here – to make a double application.
His ministry to the Corinthian church has been criticized even though his intentions have been honorable. So he proceeds to exonerate himself while continuing his theme of Christian freedom. Specifically, his approach is to discuss the responsible use of Christian freedom.
Paul is over a barrel. He is called to a Christian responsibility that can be abused by those he serves since his is compelled to serve them.
He is stubborn in his insistence not to use his right to be paid.
Does this make it harder or easier on him to fulfill his calling?
The people have complained anyway.
Paul does it to increase his heavenly reward.
Some Christians want to keep the pastor so poor that he will be totally dependent upon their control.
But Paul makes the argument that the high position of apostle appointed by Jesus carries with it certain rights.
Those rights can be carried over or applied to others in Christian work.
What rights does Paul list for us?
The reasons he has rights:
Appointed as an apostle.
Seen Jesus – miraculously.
His work has born fruit.
The rights he can take:
Right to have physical needs met.
Right to marriage and family.
Both these rights he has given up. He argues (v. 15) that he has voluntarily given up what is due him.
What has he given up?
You farm you get produce to live on.
You fight you get government paycheck.
You work (ox) you get food to keep working.
You teach spiritual truth you also have needs.
He argues, “Did you get where you are by yourself or has God used us? Does your life in Christ have material value?”
(Draw parallels in my own ministry and the ministries of others in the church.)
War on Iraq
Looting and destruction of government and public property.
What else can you expect to happen when there is rule from an iron fist that is then removed?
Anarchy breaks loose because the people have not been taught responsibility – only fear and subservience.
They will surrender quickly when this power begins to fade, i.e. officers shot in the head by troops.
If, as one in power, you have put yourself first, you teach your people to put themselves first.
Better to teach sacrificial responsibility by example.
Should you compromise your own soul for the sake of “temporary” life?
Sacrificial responsibility means not putting yourself first, like the looters or the stand Turkey took on preventing U.S. from using their country from which to stage the northern assault.
Putting yourself first eventually goes against your own interests.
Saddam Hussein’s life of Western tastes was a hypocritical façade.
I. Cycle One
II. Cycle Two
III. Cycle Three
IV. Cycle Four
You are not really free until you are free of the compulsion to put yourself first – free of being enslaved to yourself.
Just like ch. 8, you are free to love, but unless you love voluntarily for the good of others, you don’t know love – or God.
Here in ch. 9, we focused further on this principle with sacrificial responsibility.
It is having the right not to use your rights.
You don’t really have the right not to use your rights if you don’t choose not to use your rights.