< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: Making Great Sacrifices Part 7

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Making Great Sacrifices Part 7

The 3rd thing we need to know if we are living a sacrificial life is just do it.

1 Cor. 9:1-22: 1Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not the result of my work in the Lord? 2Even though I may not be an apostle to others, surely I am to you! For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
3This is my defense to those who sit in judgment on me. 4Don't we have the right to food and drink? 5Don't we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord's brothers and Cephas[a]? 6Or is it only I and Barnabas who must work for a living?

7Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk? 8Do I say this merely from a human point of view? Doesn't the Law say the same thing? 9For it is written in the Law of Moses: "Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain."[b] Is it about oxen that God is concerned? 10Surely he says this for us, doesn't he? Yes, this was written for us, because when the plowman plows and the thresher threshes, they ought to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. 11If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? 12If others have this right of support from you, shouldn't we have it all the more?

But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ. 13Don't you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? 14In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

15But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me. I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of this boast. 16Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me. 18What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make use of my rights in preaching it.

19Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. 22To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.

Sometimes we’re just not motivated. That’s when we need to realize that as Christians we have a responsibility. A duty. We don’t teach duty in America the way it used to be taught. Most people only feel a duty to themselves or maybe their families. Their comfort, pleasure and well-being. Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 12:13, “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”

This says that even above a duty to our state or country we have a duty to God. Paul doesn’t say in this passage that rights are unimportant. In fact he points out that he’s an Apostle and has rights. He also lists some of the rights of human beings: to have food and drink. To take a believing wife. Paul and Scripture teach that rights are secondary to responsibilities. If you examine the 10 commandments you will see very little about human rights and much about human responsibilities. Look at Thou shall not kill. God could have said, “You have the inalienable right to life.” But, He didn’t focus on the right. He focused on the responsibility. But, if people fulfill their responsibility, another person’s rights are met.

Three times in this Corinthian passage Paul said he had rights, but didn’t use them. Part of our responsibility is accountability. Do you know how many people sign up for something and then just don’t show up? I guess they just didn’t feel like it that day. But, Jesus didn’t ask us to do things only when we feel like it.

You can always tell people who put responsibilities ahead of rights and who put the responsibility of serving the Lord ahead of other responsibilities. You can identify them because they do what they’ve committed themselves to do as though they were doing it just for God. That’s Christian motivation. That’s what sets Christians apart. They are willing to serve Jesus anyway, anywhere and anytime!

God sent Moses to deliver the Israelites from slavery in Egypt because He said in Exodus 3: 7-10, “I have heard the cry of my people and have been moved with compassion for them. I am going to do something about it by sending you to be their deliverer.” His motivation was His desire to show mercy. After they’d been out in the desert a while, the Israelites ceased being grateful and said they were homesick for Egypt and complained all the time and Moses preached them a sermon starting with “hear me, you rebels!”

But, God took Moses aside and told him what He, God, is like. He’s a God of mercy, a God who shows pity, a God of compassion. And Moses was suppose to be that way too because He was God’s spokesperson to the Israelites. Today all Christians are called to be that way because we are all His disciples.

Over and over again in their long history prophets reminded the people of how often God showed mercy on them. Jeremiah recalled that God’s compassions are new every morning; that His faithfulness never changes. (Lamentations 3:23) and it’s the passage where we got the hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”

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