7 Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink the milk?
12 If 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.
Paul’s Right as an Apostle
Paul has chosen to surrender many of his own rights — which he might have demanded on biblical grounds — for the sake of others. He has given up the right to marriage (9:3-5). He has given up the right to be financially supported by those he ministers to (9:6-14). [Unleavened Bread] He has even given up his right to freedom from the Mosaic law when he is with Jews, so as not to offend them (9:20-23). He has done this, to “make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible” (15-19)
13 Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple get their food from the temple, and that those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? 14 In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.
[Pastors’ right to their income from their churches should be respected. But, Paul did not exercise the right. And he explains why…]
15 But 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, for I would rather die than allow anyone to deprive me of this boast. 16 For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!
Paul’s Use of His Freedom
19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To 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. 21 To 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. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
The Need for Self-Discipline
Paul concludes by pointing out that only by setting a goal and working toward it can an athlete win the prize. As a Christian, Paul has the goal of ministry; he will sacrifice everything to achieve it.
Paul was not just preaching self-sacrifice to the Corinthians. He lived a self-sacrificial life for their sake!
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
[You get to save people and win the crown as well. To that end, Paul made himself a slave to all. A soldier who pays his own expenses.
For Instagram generation, we could be like them too so that we may win some.]