But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing these things to secure any such provision. – 1 Corinthians 9:15

In our world today, we have a lot of concerns about freedom and rights… especially in the political sphere. It seems to me we have some factions within our country who are dead set on limiting rights and freedoms, and then we have other factions who are equally set on exercising their rights and freedoms regardless of the consequences. The very fact there is a threat to freedom seems to motivate people to exercise their freedom, and the more people exercise their freedom, the more people get nervous and want to restrict freedoms. Yikes! It is a vicious circle, and with the state of the discourse in our world today, it can seem impossible to make any headway. However, I think in Corinthians 9, Paul is hitting on a solution that is in the middle of these two extremes.

His argument is basically that he has rights, many of which were given to him directly by God, but he has chosen, out of his own free will, not to exercise these rights. Instead of laying down laws that restrict rights or wantonly flaunting his rights, he is responsibly handling his rights in a way that benefits others. Wow! This is so refreshing. Paul is taking a position of moral superiority that far exceeds the level of discourse in our world. What kind of person would be willing to voluntarily lay down his or her rights for the sake of something bigger than themselves? For the sake of the gospel? Well, apparently, a Christian.

Clearly, we have a lot to learn from the Apostle Paul here. We need to become the type of people who can be trusted to be free. We need to be people who are responsible with their rights. If we lived in a world of responsible people, who knew when to make use of their rights, and when to lay down their rights, then maybe the discussions would be very different.

Maybe, as Christians, instead of fighting for our rights, we should fight to become people who are responsible with the rights we have? Maybe, this would give us the moral high ground to speak into our greater societal conversation? This won’t be easy, but it takes a stronger person to voluntarily lay down rights than it does to exercise rights. This is what Paul models for us here.

How can we imitate Paul as he imitates Jesus by voluntarily laying down his rights for the sake of others?

Josh Rose
Teaching Pastor

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