Episode #142. Today we’ll read 1 Corinthians chapter 9 together. We’ll read about Paul’s example as an apostle and what it means not to muzzle an ox as it treads the grain.
Joy: You’re listening to the Lifting Her Voice podcast, Episode #142. Today we’ll read 1st Corinthians chapter 9 together: We’ll read about Paul’s example as an apostle and what it means not to muzzle an ox as it treads the grain.
Welcome to the Lifting Her Voice podcast. I’m your host, Joy Miller, and I invite you to grab your Bible and join me as we simply read God’s word together. Some things require discipline and sometimes that’s just not easy to muster by yourself, no matter how badly you want to do it or how much you know you should. It’s just easier to do it with a friend. So refill your coffee or tea, get comfortable in your favorite chair and follow along as I read aloud. I’m so glad you’re here!
Do you read the blog at Lifting Her Voice.com? For the most part, it’s a reiteration of the Welcome session from the podcast. But it usually morphs and expands for a couple of different reasons.
First, I write and record an episode but don’t listen to it until after Mitch has edited. When I finally listen, I think, “Oh, I didn’t explain that well enough,” or “Oh, why didn’t I say that?” Furthermore, when we do that transcript for each episode, I can’t make any changes because, well, it’s a transcript. It can’t be anything other than what I really said.
But all those restrictions vaporize in the blog. I can tweak and change and add to all I want. AND, at the bottom of the Blog page, there is a comment section. That’s when you can say anything you want! I just love it when you share your thoughts with me.
So, do me a favor, and read today’s blog. And comment. It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece. Just take a minute to give me your perceptions and your opinions. And while you’re on the website, scout around the other pages too. Most importantly, share it with a friend who needs a little injection of hope in these crazy times.
1 Corinthians 9
Paul’s Example as an Apostle
Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? If I am not an apostle to others, at least I am to you, because you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
My defense to those who examine me is this: Don’t we have the right to eat and drink? Don’t we have the right to be accompanied by a believing wife like the other apostles, the Lord’s brothers, and Cephas? Or do only Barnabas and I have no right to refrain from working? Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its fruit? Or who shepherds a flock and does not drink the milk from the flock?
Do Not Muzzle An Ox
Am I saying this from a human perspective? Doesn’t the law also say the same thing? For it is written in the law of Moses, Do not muzzle an ox while it treads out grain. Is God really concerned about oxen? Isn’t he really saying it for our sake? Yes, this is written for our sake, because he who plows ought to plow in hope, and he who threshes should thresh in hope of sharing the crop. If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it too much if we reap material benefits from you? If others have this right to receive benefits from you, don’t we even more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right; instead, we endure everything so that we will not hinder the gospel of Christ.
Don’t you know that those who perform the temple services eat the food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the offerings of the altar? In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should earn their living by the gospel.
For my part I have used none of these rights, nor have I written these things that they may be applied in my case. For it would be better for me to die than for anyone to deprive me of my boast! For if I preach the gospel, I have no reason to boast, because I am compelled to preach — and woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! For if I do this willingly, I have a reward, but if unwillingly, I am entrusted with a commission. What then is my reward? To preach the gospel and offer it free of charge and not make full use of my rights in the gospel.
Although I am free from all and not anyone’s slave, I have made myself a slave to everyone, in order to win more people. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win Jews; to those under the law, like one under the law — though I myself am not under the law — to win those under the law. To those who are without the law, like one without the law — though I am not without God’s law but under the law of Christ — to win those without the law. To the weak I became weak, in order to win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some. Now I do all this because of the gospel, so that I may share in the blessings.
Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize. Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. They do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable crown. So I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air. Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
Now this is an interesting monologue from Paul. At first, it sounds like he’s all over the place and, frankly, a little bitter. But as I listened and read the chapter multiple times, it became clear that he had purpose in the way he wrote this part of the letter. First, defining the difference between disciple and apostle might be helpful. Diffen.com says this: While a disciple is a student, one who learns from a teacher, an apostle is sent to deliver teachings to others. “Apostle” means messenger, he who is sent. … The word “apostle” has two meanings, the larger meaning of a messenger and the narrow meaning to denote the twelve people directly linked to Jesus Christ.
Paul called himself an apostle because of the encounter with Jesus, and being sent to evangelize the Gentiles. In this passage, Paul starts out as if he is going to make the case for being supported by the offerings of those who benefit from his teaching as the other apostles were apparently privileged to do. He also lists a few other benefits the apostles enjoy and brings up Deuteronomy 25:4, which directs one not to muzzle the ox while it treads the grain. In other words, don’t do anything to impede someone from doing their work. In the case of a pastor, pay him a wage so he can concentrate on ministering to the congregation instead of worrying how he’s going to feed his family.
But then Paul kind of takes a left turn. It seems he doesn’t want to take advantage of any of those rights. He doesn’t want anyone to ever accuse him of preaching the Gospel for the money. It’s not a job to him; it’s even more than a calling. He is compelled. He can’t not do it. And therefore, he doesn’t want to give up being able to boast that he endured, or that he was disciplined. He ran the race and won the prize. Oh, that we all would be like Paul. Let’s pray.
Father, thank You for Paul. He was – and still is – such a fine example of devotion to You. I know that we can’t all be Paul, Lord, but we can, with Your help, exercise self-control in everything. Jesus, because of You, we have the hope of receiving that imperishable crown. Thank You. Amen.
Thank you for joining me here today. I pray God will grow in you what has been planted and watered here. In this time of unprecedented struggle worldwide, we can look to God for guidance and comfort. Be sensitive to those in your circle of influence who need a word of encouragement and invite them to join us. If you like this show, it would be great if you give it a five-star review. Don’t forget to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. See you right here tomorrow. Be well!
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible(r), Copyright (c) 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible(r) and CSB(r) are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
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