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Walking the Talk

Walking the Talk

Words of Faith 6-16-17

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2017

Jeff.Hoy@faithfellowshipweb.com

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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1 Corinthians 9

   Am 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? [2] Even 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.

   [3] This is my defense to those who sit in judgment on me. [4] Don't we have the right to food and drink? [5] Don'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? [6] Or is it only I and Barnabas who must work for a living?

   [7] Who 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?

 

       So be careful. Be very careful how you live. What good is freedom if it causes a brother or sister to pitch headlong and be injured? In eternity, what does that gain? Our words and actions ought to be measured and considered with regard to how other people might rise or fall, rather than simply with regard to our personal expressions of freedom.

     Paul was willing to be a vegetarian if necessary, if it would keep a brother from faltering in his faith! But all that was just hypothetical. He walked this principle out in his own life and ministry in a bold way when he refused to receive financial support from the church even when he had an absolute right to do so.

       The biggest issue related to Paul was whether he was really "an Apostle". It seemed that there were rumblings of doubt about this. Some were adamant that Paul should not be honored or treated as a real "apostle" because he had not actually walked with Jesus during his earthly ministry. Some were accusing Paul of claiming apostleship just so that he could gain money. These rumblings would not go away easily. He would later give a more extended defense of his apostleship (2 Cor. 10-13). Here, Paul simply illustrated the freedom issue as it related to those who questioned him.

       Paul pointed out his well-known steadfast refusal to derive material support from those to whom he was ministering, so no one could say he was motivated by money (2 Cor. 2:17). It was a huge sacrifice of a freedom he was absolutely entitled to, but it was important. Rather than create a possible point of contention or a "scandalos" for some believers, Paul made his own life very much harder.

       Paul's position as an apostle was like that of the knowledgeable Christian in this matter of freedom and rights. Paul had refused to be maintained at the church's expense even though he had a right to such support (Matt. 10:10-11).

       The following verses say some important things about paying those who work in ministry. But the big point here was still about freedom. Paul put his sweat and labor where his mouth was. He was not just talk. He walked the walk where it really counted.

       Rather than cause the "rumblers" to stumble, Paul had worked hard with his hands and given up the right of an Apostle to receive financial support in the places that he ministered. Paul took a "day job" making tents and sought offerings only for the poor widows in Jerusalem who were being neglected. Paul was willing to turn in his entire paycheck and work in the market and then he used even that contact to share the Good News.

        Our devotional reflection on this passage should not miss pausing to ask a few introspective questions with the aid of the Holy Spirit.

         Is there some way that my freedom has become a stumbling block to a weaker brother or sister? Is there some area of life or practice, behavior or conversation, which might be a detriment to someone in the Body of Christ or a person to whom I minister? Is there an aspect of my lifestyle that is a stumbling point to someone that the Lord is bringing to faith in Christ?

       Are the things that I do and buy that could be an encouragement to others, a witness and testimony of how much I love Jesus, or a discouragement of their faith? Are the places I go and enjoy edifying to the growth of others or do they cause some to stumble? Is my mouth a consistent source of encouragement to others, or does my "right to expression" and freedom of speech sometimes cause a setback for the Kingdom of God?

       Is there some "right" that I have been clinging to that really is not all that important in the span of eternity? Am I willing to set aside that "right" or freedom so that others may be better encouraged in their walk and faith? Is there something I need to change?

 

       Father God, look deeply into my life. Help me to see and trust that You will supply all of my needs according to Your riches in glory. Help me to know that You will provide the Living Water from deep within me. Help me to see the things that are important and those that are unimportant. Help me to find the balance in life so as not to cause others to stumble, and yet to always walk in Your freedom won for me. Set me free from the opinions of others-- while at the same time giving consideration to those who are weak. In Jesus' Name.