READ: 1 Corinthians 9:1-27
THINK: Many Christians are more than willing to take great liberty in their behavior and to loosen their personal preferences, believing that this will help them relate to their culture. But few are willing to go the other direction when necessary, restricting their rights or limiting their freedoms out of consideration for others who are sincerely trying to keep their consciences clear toward God. But this passage talks more about personal restraint and self-denial than claiming our own rights as Christians. Those who are willing to practice this for the good of others will ultimately discover that you can never surrender anything to God that He doesn’t replace with something even better.
RESPOND: How does Paul exemplify the principle covered in chapter 8? (See 9:1 note.) What do verses 3-14 indicate about supporting those who serve in ministry? (See 9:14 note.) What does verse 16 indicate about a genuine call to preach about Jesus? What does it mean that Paul made himself “a slave to everyone,” and why did he do this? (See 9:19 note.) What does it mean to “become all things to all men,” and what’s the aim of this practice? (See 9:22 note.) Does this mean that Christians must sometimes compromise godly principles in order to relate to and influence others for Christ? In what ways might you sometimes need to loosen personal preferences for the sake of others? In what ways might you need to tighten restrictions or limit your freedoms for others? What’s the ultimate goal of such discipline (vv. 22-23)? What kind of discipline does it take to “win the prize” of eternity with Christ and to help others receive that reward? (See 9:24 notes.) In what ways do Christians sometimes view life from a perspective of what they can get from God? Why must we approach life as a matter of surrendering to Christ and His purposes? What does a person with this perspective ultimately discover about giving to God? (See 9:24 first note.) What does it mean that Paul beat his body and made it his slave (v. 27)? Why did he do this? (See 9:24 second note.) How can you ensure that you don’t forfeit the prize for serving Christ? (See 9:27 note.)
PRAY: Ask God to help you put the good of others ahead of yourself. Pray that you would be willing to either loosen or limit your own freedoms–without compromising Biblical principles–depending on what helps others get the most accurate impression of Jesus. Ask God to help you develop the discipline to keep surrendering your will to His.
ACT: As you go through the day practice the principle of doing what’s best for others–what will help them get a more accurate impression of Jesus–in all you say and do. Without compromising Biblical principles, make a deliberate effort to befriend and relate to people who don’t know Jesus, demonstrating special consideration for them.