For the Gospel – 1 Corinthians 9:1-23

The church should be known for what we are for not what we are against. Paul said, “I do all this for the sake of the gospel…” (1 Cor. 9:23). He was for the gospel. As a church, as Christians, we stand for the gospel. It’s what we are about! In 1 Corinthians 9, we read that for the sake of the gospel we must put:

Team Over Title

Paul begins chapter 9 asking, “Am I not an apostle?” People were questioning his authority and authenticity. He tells the Corinthians in verse 1-2 that they of all people should know him. Then, in verses 3-14 he explains the rights he has as an apostle. He said he had a right to have support and a spouse, but he refused that right. He gave examples of a soldier, farmer, and shepherd. Soldiers do not provide their own uniforms or serve for free. Farmers eat their crops. Shepherds drink the milk of the flock. Then he gives the example of Moses, Jesus, and the priests. In verse 15 he says, “But I have used none of these things….” Paul gave up his rights for the team and became a servant. Preaching the gospel was his pursuit. He had no personal limitations. You and I have to stop thinking about what we can’t do and start thinking about what God can do! The gospel is the power of God to everyone who believes. We have to commit to our God-given mission and serve each other, not ourselves. We have to lose our ego for the team and accomplish something greater together. We have to get fired up about the Lord and serve Him with gladness!

Purpose Over Preferences

In verses 20-22, Paul repeats the phrase, “that I might win.” His goal was to reach others. The church is the only organization that does not exist for its members. We have to fight the gravitational pull to selfishness. It is about others, not us. We are here for those who are not yet here. Our purpose is to reach the lost. It is God’s will for the church to grow! Reaching people is essential as long as heaven and hell are realities. God has called us to gather the people! God is going to judge us not based on what we did but based on what He asked us to do. Proverbs says, “He who wins souls is wise” (11:30). You can’t win the whole world, but you can win your world. You and I are God’s plan and He has no plan B. God wants us to discover our purpose and make a difference. The world doesn’t need to hear about our preferences or about what they need to do. They need to hear what God has done for us and what He can do for them.

Mission Over Methods

Paul says, “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (v. 22). Our methods need to serve the mission. Jesus called fishermen. He told them that He would make them fishers of men. Great fishermen figure out where the fish are, how deep to drop the line, and what bait to use. They don’t keep using the same lure if it is not working! We have to find common ground with those around us. You have to know how to speak their language. Fishing is also messy. We have to reach people before we can clean them. People have problems, pain, pasts, and pressures, but we have the good news that Jesus can change their life! Our mission is clear. It is called the Great Commission. We are called to reach people and teach people. The mission is a non-negotiable, but no method is holy! Too many churches have been willing to change the message. You could preach heresy and many churches would not care as long as you don’t change their methods, the way they do church. We are not going soft or compromising the message. Just listen to me preach every Sunday! We are not in love with the system or structure. We are in love with the Savior! Too many churches love their system and structure more than souls.

People do not need more information. They can get information everywhere on the internet.They need transformation. A church or a person that attracts people, looks like Jesus. Jesus was authentic, relevant, enjoyable, powerful, and accepting. We have to go and tell! We have to enter the world around us. What do you need to change in your life so that you are living for the sake of the gospel?