Read Deuteronomy 10, Jeremiah 3, 1 Corinthians 9 today. This devotional is about 1 Corinthians 9.
A new chapter greets us here in 1 Corinthians 9 but the topic of this chapter continued from chapter 8. That chapter started the topic generally of Christian liberty. Specifically, the issue was whether it is wrong for Christians to eat meat after it had been sacrificed to idols. Paul continued discussing that topic in this chapter.
Christian liberty is a right. Nobody has the right to forbid a believer from doing something that is not sinful.
But although you have the right to Christian liberty, you aren’t required to exercise that right in any way. Here in 1 Corinthians 9, Paul holds up his own example to illustrate the point.
Like every believer, Paul was free (v. 1a). As an apostle, he had the right to be supported financially so that he could eat and drink and even bring a family along with him, if he had one (vv. 3-5a). Other apostles traveled with their families (v. 5b) and did not work to support themselves financially like Paul and Barnabas did (v. 6).
In verses 7-14 Paul explained why he had these rights as an apostle using everyday examples and biblical examples. Then, in verses 15-23 he told the Corinthians that he did not insist on exercising all these rights because the gospel is the most important thing.
It is through the gospel that people are liberated from sin and its penalties. Liberating people from sin is more important than exercising the liberties we have in Christ. So, if giving up a few rights is beneficial to the gospel, Paul was eager to do that (v. 19).
Now consider again the topic of idol meat. Is that tasty meat and its delicious low price worth compromising the weak faith of another brother or sister in Christ? Is any act of Christian liberty worth that?
Yes, we are free in Christ but we are also servants of Christ for his gospel which he called us to spread anywhere and everywhere. Does the effect of our decisions on the spread of the gospel ever cross our minds? Our words and actions in this life can point others to Christ or they can cause others to recoil from Christ. As we grow in the Lord, the maturity he develops in us should help us to think about our lives and evaluate our decisions this way.