Love for the Gospel Shapes How We Live


1 Corinthians 9

Last week, we saw principles that guide how we exercise our rights and freedoms. The Apostle Paul continues this theme at length!  But now he uses his own example to show that serving the Gospel shapes his priorities and lifestyle

Paul Starts By Reminding Them of His Position v1

He was an Apostle: the highest office in the church

A requirement of being an Apostle is to be a witness of the risen Christ. Paul says, “I saw him!”

He was not just an Apostle he was their Apostle vs1-2

In Acts 18, Paul founded the church in Corinth; and he spent 1½ years teaching them

He Understood His Rights in Christ v1 “Am I not free?”

Many in the church struggled to understand their freedoms; but not Paul, he knew them well


Yet, He Wants Them to Know the Rights He Gave Up

There are three areas in which Paul gave up his rights

1.  The right to eat food sacrificed to idols as mentioned in chapter 8 and possibly here in v4

2.  The right to have a wife v5 – Paul embraced singleness as he describes in chapter 7

3.  The right to be paid for laboring to serve churches v6

Paul keeps his focus on this last right

He gives four proofs that he has the right to be paid for serving the church

1.  Being paid for your service is a principle that is obvious to the world v7

2.  The Old Testament law affirmed this principle v8

3.  This was the practice for those who work in all temples v13; whether Jewish or pagan

4.  It was commanded by Jesus v14 (Luke 10:7 ‘a laborer deserves his wages’)

He goes into detail about his rights in order to dramatize his refusal of them


Why Would the Apostle Paul Give Up Obvious ‘Rights’?

The gospel is a greater purpose than clinging to our rights

He repeats this idea three times: v12, v15 and v18

In vs 12-18 he refers to ‘the gospel’ seven times

Each time, he exalts the value of the gospel to dictate how he lives

Can you say the gospel motivates your priorities?

What is the gospel and why is it worth sacrificing rights and privileges?

Gospel means good news: it involves incomparable events, and it provides unequalled hope

The gospel so thrilled Paul, he made himself a servant to it v19

He was not just willing to live this way, he was eager to do so

The gospel had captured Paul’s heart and he wanted it for everyone else!

This made Paul flexible in how he dealt with people vs 20-22

What point is Paul making?  ‘Servants’ adapt to those they serve

He is not telling us to compromise beliefs, but to compromise our preferences

Love leads us to become comfortable with the people around us

Serving Christ and his gospel shaped how Paul lived vs 24-27

All that Paul claimed to believe about God actually led how he lived

He lived with self-control v25

This is not a negative concept, being out of control is

Just as exercise shapes our physical body, godly discipline shapes our soul  Bible reading, prayer, community

He had direction v26

He was not “aimlessly” reacting to every new situation

We are Christians, we follow a Person; and he is consistent, faithful, and wise

His heart was filled with the joy of serving Christ!

Look at his language: v18 reward, v23 share blessing, v24 the prize

Paul lived to please God and that brought joy to his heart

Have you lost perspective about where goodness is found?

How will you respond to Christ and his gospel?

Do you need this gospel?  Christ is here to save – don’t push him away

For those who have the gospel – is your heart dry? Is your life aimless?


Jesus described the “Greatest Commandment” in these words:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”  Mark 12:30

This idea of ‘Great Commandment living’ at first glance seems so sacrificial.

The thought of everything in life being about God seems overboard to some Christians (and all non-Christians).

 “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness”  Matthew 6:33

You may be fearful in ways you cannot even define when you are asked to submit to Christ in all things.

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me”  Matthew 11:29

The call to make everything about Christ seems to be hard, and demand so much. In our minds, we think how could we make such a sacrifice?

The answer is found in understanding the full truth of Great Commandment Living

How can we call our part – even when it is everything – a great sacrifice when we look at what eternity holds for us! We are made whole. All things will be at rest. Our experience will be glory beyond human contemplation. We will live in a perfect loving relationship with God: Father, Son & Holy Spirit

How can we begrudge God the temporary sacrifices we will make when we see the unimaginable sacrifice which Christ made just to join himself to humanity forever. Add to that the sacrifice on the cross to take our guilt and God’s wrath. It is true foolishness to carry on about sacrifice when we live in the shadow of the cross!

How can we complain or hesitate about giving God our all, when He has given grace beyond measure to us?

Why would we hold back from submitting completely to God when we see on full display around us, the pain, sorrow and brokenness of life that is not yielded to God? We have experienced that God is good! Why do we hesitate to have more of that goodness and less of our emptiness? 

All hesitance and resistance to Great Commandment Living is based upon lies from the Deceiver and from our own sinful nature.

Are you a Christ follower? Then embrace the glorious fulfillment of following him whole-heartedly. If you do not think that sounds appealing – it is because you remain in ignorance about what it is like.

Yes, Christ does call for everything from us. And he has every right since he has done everything necessary to save us fully and forever.

Pour your heart out to Christ and experience his promise of life that is good.

For Jesus who said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me”, added “for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls”

When Jesus declared, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness”, also said, “and all these things will be added to you”

Today we can truly desire to surrender all to God, because it is His heart for us to feel that way.

Today we can truly love God more deeply and live accordingly, because the Holy Spirit dwells in us working toward that purpose.

Don’t get distracted by the thought that it is impossible to exercise Great Commandment living for the rest of your life. Instead think about how good it is to exercise Great Commandment living right now.

Right now is the only time you can live wholly for God.


I was recently reminded of the story in this article I posted a few years ago. It is well worth reading again

We owe Christ everything! 

Yet we can still be casual toward about our possession of the gospel, just as we can be negligent in how we serve the One who gave so much for us.

Philip Ryken’s shared this story which he had read elsewhere. It speaks to having a willingness to give our life fully to Christ.

A boy had a sister who was suffering from the same disease that the he had survived two years earlier. The doctor explained that she needed a blood transfusion from someone else who had conquered the same disease. Her brother was the ideal donor.

“Would you give your blood to your sister?” the doctor asked. Johnny hesitated at first, but with his lower lip trembling he finally said, “Sure, for my sister.”

Soon the children were wheeled into the hospital room. Neither one of them spoke, but when their eyes met, Johnny grinned. His smile faded as the nurse inserted the needle into his arm and he watched the blood flow through the tube. After several minutes, Johnny’s shaky voice finally broke the silence. “Doctor,” he said, “when do I die?”

Only then did the doctor realize why Johnny had hesitated and why his lip had trembled when he agreed to donate his blood: he thought the doctor was asking for all of it! Yet out of love for his sister, he was willing to give it.

Christ not only poured out his blood for us, our guilt and the Father’s wrath was poured out on him! All this He did for those who had pushed Him aside to serve themselves.

The Apostle Paul understood what it meant to live in response to what Christ had done for him. In 2 Timothy 4:6 he writes,

“I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come”.

At first thought the idea of “pouring out our life” seems drastic. But what else are we doing with our life? Every day another 24 hours of our existence is being poured out for something – what a wonderful thing, if the that ‘something’ is the kingdom of Christ

How well do we appreciate the sacrifice Christ poured out for us? And what sacrifice are we willing to make for Him?


In the days leading up to Jesus crucifixion, Mary, the sister of Martha, anoints Jesus with a very expensive ointment. 

Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for 300 denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” (John 12:1-8)

It was a lavish display and in financial terms, a significant sacrifice. The ointment was worth approximately 10 months’ salary.

Pause to do the math – that is $30,000 for the average American worker!

There was nothing casual or half-hearted in what Mary did for Jesus.

We don’t know if the decision to make this sacrifice, and to offer this public display involved inner struggle for Mary. The fact that the Bible is silent on the matter tells us it really isn’t important.

What is important is what Mary actually did:

We know she publically demonstrated that she loved Jesus.

We know Mary was thankful to Jesus who had given forgiveness to her and life to her brother.

We know she humbled herself, wiping Jesus feet with her hair.

We know she sacrificed what could have been used in countless other ways.

What Mary did not know:

She did not know that her actions held meaning far beyond what she could then understand.

She did not know that Jesus would soon be on a cross and in a tomb.

She did not know how deeply Jesus would appreciate her actions.

She did not know that her actions had just become part of the most astonishing of all God’s works – the atoning death of His Son!

She did not know that we would be impacted by her actions 2000 years later.

Every believer has as much reason to be thankful to Jesus as Mary did.

We have been raised from spiritual death and we have the promise that even our bodies will one day be raised to eternal glory.

Every believer also has choices and opportunities to show Jesus our love and gratitude.

We all cannot give something worth 10 months’ salary, but we all can be sacrificial with our possessions, and we all can demonstrate thankfulness with our actions.

Every believer who has the heart of Mary will also find that God uses our actions in ways that go far beyond what we anticipated and can currently see.

This is not because we are wise, gifted or wealthy. It is because God is loving, gracious and wonderful.

Every believer can bring the “fragrance” of devotion to Christ into the places that we live, work and worship.

This week, we remember what Jesus did for us.

It is an appropriate time to consider what we are doing for him.


WORSHIP: Part 3 “Worship Involves All of Life”

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Romans 12:1

1.  Our worship (responding correctly to God) is the complete surrender of our lives before God

Worship is the action of presenting our bodies, which is our whole self

We offer a “living sacrifice”, which means we give ourselves as a continuous offering

This offering of ourselves is to be “acceptable”, which means it is on God’s terms, not our own

2.  Worship is not something reserved for certain times

If worship is limited to singing in a service, we have seriously marginalized God

If our life partially belongs to God, we are acting like “polytheists” (those who worship multiple gods)

3.  Worship is the attitude we have as we live for God

“God is so amazing; I want what He wants, more than anything!”

“Christ has so completely and perfectly saved me; I want to live for Him!”

4.  How do we simplify all of this into an idea we can grab?

Worship is making sure our lives are constantly engaged with God and His expectations for us.

Thoughts to consider:  Do we see life as worship?  How was our morning as offering to God?  What can we still do today that is an offering to God?  What amazes me most about God and how He saved me?