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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Two Modes of Slavery

I have often returned to 1 Corinthians 9:19 – 23 for a checkup.  Paul tells us there that in the process of doing all things – not some things, not a weekend or a seminar, or a part time volunteer in a ministry no, all – for the sake of the gospel; part of that process is to make himself a slave – he could have used the word servant, but no, he penned, “slave” – to those who do not know Christ.
Two Modes of Slavery
That passage has served to both challenge and rebuke me over and over again along with 2 Corinthians 5:11 – 21.  It reminds me that central to my every action should be the furtherance of the gospel.

There is a major wrinkle in my application of those passages and the subsequent making a slave of myself.  Some, make that more than some, of the people that I meet that are non-believers I don’t like very much.  Yet there it is smack in the middle of 1 Corinthians 9, I am supposed to ignore my reaction to these folks and become their slave so that they can come to Christ.

Which brings me to the last paragraph in 1 Corinthians 9:19 – 23.  My reactions to less than polite people requires the self-control to which Paul refers.  He is describing an intentionality in his purpose, his choices.  The purpose is to win people to Christ.  To do so he makes his body a slave to his purpose, his intention.

So rather than trying to get back at those who are defaming him, he commands himself to not react and seeks to lead them to his Lord.

I have a long way to go in imitating Paul.

1 comment:

  1. As if this weren't challenging enough, I wonder if Paul doesn't add another dimension - my relationships with other believers. It seems to me this is one of the themes of Philippians. Fidelity to the Gospel governs, and even requires, how I am to relate everyone in my sphere of influence.

    Sometimes, especially if it's unbelievers I am in contact with regularly, it's even easier than with some of my fellow travelers. I'm on my guard with my neighbors, but easily "expect" my believing friends are super-human and should behave far better than I expect of myself.

    Perhaps I'm more sensitive to this as a major attitude the Lord is working with me is what Paul warns against in Philippians (as does James in his letter), in Ch.1:17 and 2:3 in NIV, "selfish ambition." The simplest definition to me is "the desire to have my own way no matter what." It's in the context of relationships with other believers. But it applies to all relationships with people.

    And I have a huge dose of it.