Article by Pastor Tom Drionat GraceLife London
Christians who are self-focused should almost carry a spiritual health warning. They can do an awful lot of damage by concentrating on their rights and their freedoms. But the message in the Bible is that we should be concerned much more about each other... and to live like that means that sometimes you have to fight off the pressure you feel from your own rights.
To put it another way: as Christians we don’t often have to fight for our rights but we do very often have to fight off our rights.
This is the clear message of 1 Corinthians 8; and in 1 Corinthians 9, the subject is still the same. Paul talks about his freedom in chapter 9, saying in verse 1 “Am I not free?”, and speaking in verse 4 about his rights: “Do we not have the right to eat and drink?” In verse 11, he speaks about a “rightful claim”, but in verse 12 he says, “we have not made use of this right.” Indeed, it is this issue of rights and freedoms that runs right through this chapter.
Although Paul says yes I have these rights and freedoms, he nevertheless fought off those rights. Verse 12 shows that he was willing to give up anything, rather than put something in the way of the Gospel.
These “rights” he was talking about were not petty issues. Rather, he was talking here about the right to receive financial support as a preacher, and the right to be married and for his wife travel with him.
But Paul says—in effect—that if someone would be caused to stumble by him exercising his rights, then he would rather give them up entirely (v.12).
We all ought to have this attitude today and, like Paul, be other-focused; both for the sake of other Christians, and for the sake of the lost. We also ought to be careful, knowing that if we will lead others into sin, God will take that very seriously.