March 7, 2011 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by Jeannie Lee, Gracepoint Berkeley

1 Corinthians 9:19-27

What does it mean to “beat my body and make it my slave?” Why is this kind of “struggle” absolutely necessary in Christian life (cf. Heb 12:3-4)?

– To make my body a slave means that I cannot allow my body and what I feel to dictate my actions or inaction. I need to be the master, to tell my body what to do and to force it to obey. When I am feeling tired or fatigued and don’t want to push myself to meet someone and counsel them, when I feel bad about waking my kids up early for a meeting on a Saturday morning, when I don’t want to be the last one out of NL to lock up, when I don’t want to be the one to change the toilet paper rolls in the bathroom or empty the trash, when I don’t want to sit still to reflect or write or pray, THOSE are the times when I need to make my body my slave! And just obey and do what I know to be right.

– This kind of struggle is absolutely necessary in Christian life for a couple reasons, the first being b/c Jesus struggled to the point of shedding His blood for me, and I can do no less for my Lord. More than that though, it’s also b/c Satan is determined to take me out of the battle, in whatever way he can, and he’s crafty and smart enough to know that my body is weak though my spirit be willing. He will take me out through illness, through fatigue, and I need to know his schemes in order to fight him, and I need to push myself to bodily obey, to be quick to move, to move quickly when I do, to be disciplined bodily, not wimpy.

And according to v.27, it’s also so that I would not be disqualified for the prize, the great reward of seeing Jesus face to face that I will have the privilege to attaining to if I keep running the race with perseverance. How tragic if someone were disqualified for the prize simply b/c they were too lazy to run, can’t make it to the finish line b/c their body told them to stop, to slow down a bit, to stop here and there to look at the daisies, to take a break and not be too intense. I do not want to be like that!

————————————-

Submitted by Gary Chang, Gracepoint Hsinchu

1 Corinthians 9:1-27

In today’s passage, Paul responds that though he is free to do many things, he did not exercise these rights in order that no one would be hindered from the Gospel of Christ.  For Apostle Paul it was all about getting people to come to know the Gospel and to receive salvation.  So Paul’s basic life philosophy was very simple: he would put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ. In other words, though Paul himself as a minister of the Gospel and as the spiritual father to the Corinthian church is entitled to certain rights, he considers none of his rights to be as important as whether by his exercise of any of these rights it would hinder someone else from the Gospel.  And to the extent it does or it may, Paul gladly lets go of his rights so that at least from him, the Gospel would not be hindered.  But Paul not only withholds from exercising his rights, he also makes himself “a slave to everyone” in order to win as many people to Christ as possible.  So to the Jews he becomes like a Jew, and to the Gentiles he becomes like a Gentile.  And in order for him to live this out, Paul had to basically surrender himself wholly to the need of the Gospel.  This requires that he “beats his body and makes it his slave,” because the body is full of fleshly craving and self-focused desires and appetites.  The body demands to be fed, to be provided with creaturely comfort, to be nurtured and to be pampered.  The body’s instinctive response is to kick against self-restraint and self-denial.  So in order for Paul to make himself a slave for the sake of the Gospel, he had to subdue his fleshly cravings and become a man of discipline who would control his body and his appetites and desires, rather than let the flesh control him.

In the day-to-day realities of Paul’s life, he probably worked harder than anybody else.  Because on top of his ministry demands and the spiritual work of teaching, disciplining and ministering to the churches, Paul had to work to provide for his own livelihood and his won means.  In addition, by making himself a slave to everyone, it meant that his preferences and desires, as far as causing people to become open to the Gospel is concerned, are placed at the bottom in terms of importance.  His schedule, where he would go, how his time would be spent, how much he is disrupted, where his money would go, where and what he would eat, how much sleep he would get, etc. – in each of these areas of Paul’s life one would see that it was all for other people and their schedule and convenience.  Whatever Paul’s preferences would be utterly irrelevant or inconsequential, because for Paul it was simply all about doing whatever he could to get people to come to know the Gospel.

This is a powerful lesson for me as I know that I am still very much attached to comfort and pampering my flesh.  When I lose sleep or when my schedule is disrupted by other demands and needs, I can get easily frazzled.  When I am tired, I certainly fail to “beat my face and make it my slave” so that it would instead show cheerfulness and enthusiasm before people.  Much of my body and its desires for certain level of relaxation, sleep and comfort have not been beaten and subjugated to slavery.  Just recently I think about how these past two weeks with traveling to America, followed by staying up to prepare for the talk at the retreat, to being on high alert at the retreat, to following the retreat having to prepare for message for this past Sunday.  As I was monitoring my heart these past two weeks, I detected a sense of fatigue and not wanting to “put up for the sake of others” in the undercurrent of my emotions.  And this tells me that I have not made myself a slave and that I am far from being willing to put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.  And the ripple effect when I do not make my body my slave is that instead I end up being influenced and affected by my body and how I am feeling.  I have long known that denying my flesh is a perennial struggle of mine, and from today’s DT I am reminded to really prayerfully approach verses 12 and 19: that by the power of God and by my willing embrace to let go of my preferences for the sake of the Gospel and obey, I can grow to become someone who would “put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ,” and who would “make himself a slave to everyone to win as many as possible.”

——————————

Submitted by Kenny Choi, Gracepoint Berkeley

1 Corinthians 9:1-27

Note the frequent occurrence of the words “free,” “right(s),” and “win.”  How are these worked out in Apostle Paul’s life?

Apostle Paul is “free” in the sense that he could’ve exercised his rights as a leader to the Corinthian church if that’s what he wanted to choose. He could play the “apostle” card, and insist that the Corinthians support him as ones who were the direct result of his work in the Lord. Apostle Paul goes on to list out all the rights that he could potential insist upon, but he refrains from doing so. And his reason is that he would rather “put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.” In other words, he did not demand these rights because to him, what was far more important than his own rights was that he would “win as many as possible” by offering the “gospel free of charge”.  Winning souls for Christ was his highest priority, and because that was the mission of his life, he would forego all of his rights as a free man, and voluntarily make himself a “slave to everyone”. I find this to be such an inspiring picture. There are a lot of rights that I’m free to exercise right now. I could insist upon my right to come home after a long exhausting day of commuting and work, and spend the rest of the evening winding down watching sports. I could insist upon my right to spend all my vacation days touring all these places with my family that I’ve never seen. I could insist upon my right to use all of my hard-earned salary into buying that dream home in some gated community. These are all nice things to do and there is nothing technically wrong if I were to insist upon these rights. But as a Christian, the context in which I live in is that there are still many people who need to hear the gospel, and that there are still so many people who need to be won over to Christ. Jesus said that the harvest is plentiful and the workers are few. And if this is the case, than there are going to be certain rights that I’m just going to have to let go of, so that I could make myself a “slave to everyone”. As I’ve been serving the Element & Interhigh students, I’ve let go of my right to buy a nice two-seater sports car with a turbo engine, and made myself a “slave” by opting to drive around a minivan instead. I’ve let go of my right to spend my money on that dream house, as my money now goes into things like buying equipment for the many sports and games that we play or other needs that arise in ministry. I’ve let go of my right to just rest on Saturdays by preparing for messages that I have to give on Sunday for the middle school students. All of this so that there would be some youth kid who would be interested in finding out more about who God is and how they could ultimately be won over to Christ. Its still a battle for me to lay down these rights on a daily basis, but I’m thankful for this example of Apostle Paul and how his whole life was oriented around “becoming all things to all men so that by all possible means he might save”, as this the model that I want to follow.

Be Sociable, Share!

One Response to “March 7, 2011 Devotion Sharing”

  1. Ernie says:

    Thank u for sharing!

Leave a Response