1 CORINTHIANS 9
Renouncing one’s own rights: the example of Paul
9 • 1 As for me, am I not free? I am an apostle and I have seen Jesus, the Lord, and you are my work in the Lord. 2 Although I may not be an apostle for others, at least I am one for you. You are, in the Lord, evidence of my apostleship.
3 Now this is what I answer to those who criticize me: 4 Have we not the right to be fed? 5 Have we not the right to bring along with us a sister as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? 6 Am I the only one, with Barnabas, bound to work?
What soldier goes to war at his own expense? 7 What farmer does not eat from the vineyard he planted? Who tends a flock and does not drink from its milk? 8 Are these rights only accepted human practice? No. The Law says the same. In the Law of Moses it is written: Do not muzzle the ox which threshes grain. 9 Does this mean that God is concerned with oxen, 10 or rather with us? Of course it applies to us. For our sake it was written that no one plows without expecting a reward for plowing, and no one threshes without hoping for a share of the crop. 11 Then, if we have sown spiritual riches among you, would it be too much for us to reap some material reward? 12 If others have had a share among you, we could have it all the more.
Yet we made no use of this right and we prefer to endure everything rather than put any obstacle to the Gospel of Christ. 13 Do you not know that those working in the sacred service eat from what is offered for the temple? And those serving at the altar receive their part from the altar. 14 The Lord ordered, likewise, that those announcing the Gospel live from the Gospel. 15 Yet I have not made use of my rights, and now I do not write to claim them: I would rather die! No one will deprive me of this glory of mine.
16 Because I cannot boast of announcing the Gospel: I am bound to do it. Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel! 17 If I preached voluntarily, I could expect my reward, but I have been trusted this office against my will. 18 How can I, then, deserve a reward? In announcing the Gospel, I will do it freely without making use of the rights given to me by the Gospel.
19 So, feeling free with everybody, I have become everybody’s slave in order to gain a greater number. 20 To save the Jews I became a Jew with the Jews, and because they are under the Law, I myself submitted to the Law, although I am free from it. 21 With the pagans, not subject to the Law, I became one of them, although I am not without a law of God, since Christ is my Law. Yet I wanted to gain those strangers to the Law. 22 To the weak I made myself weak, to win the weak. So I made myself all things to all people in order to save, by all possible means, some of them. 23 This I do for the Gospel, so that I too have a share of it.
Faith demands sacrifice
• 24 Have you not learned anything from the stadium? Many run, but only one gets the prize. Run, therefore, intending to win it, 25 as athletes who impose upon themselves a rigorous discipline. Yet for them the wreath is of laurels which wither, while for us, it does not wither.
26 So, then, I run knowing where I go. I box but not aimlessly in the air. 27 I punish my body and control it, lest after preaching to others, I myself should be rejected.
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