“I deserve.” “Get mine.” “It is my right.” These phrases have become commonplace, not just in the world around us, but in our lives as well. In the verses we looked at yesterday, Paul emphasized his right to be supported financially by the church.
I have been married for 12 years now. They have been 12 of the best years of my life. Despite having the best wife ever, I’ve still found myself expecting more at times. I have had some moments where I felt like Paul, except on a much more selfish and immature level. You know those classic stupid guy thoughts like “I put my dishes in the dishwasher, I deserve to just sit on the couch the rest of the night now,” or even better, “I made the bed once this week and now you have the audacity to ask me to take out the trash?”
Take a moment to examine yourself and remember a recent moment where you had a similar thought about your rights. Read 1 Corinthians 9:12. Remember, Paul has spent most of this chapter reminding the church just how much sacrifice he put in for their lives and how it is his right to be supported by them.
Let’s take a closer look at verses 12.
12 If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ.
In those moments of excessive self-worth, we rarely take into consideration how our “rights” affect the people around us. One of the most disruptive, dare I say, destructive forces in the church today takes place when we misuse the freedom or the rights we have been given by God. Throughout the Bible, God emphasizes the importance of helping and supporting the people around us. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” I often find myself focusing on what I am allowed to do instead of focusing on what I should do for those around me.
Paul set himself up as an example to follow. He showed us how he had every right to be supported by the church at Corinth, yet Paul laid down that right for something he knew was far more important: “the gospel of Christ.” He knew that these young believers in a relatively young church might have a difficult time supporting him, so he laid his right down for the greater good. When you find yourself demanding what you deserve, ask yourself “is my right what’s most important here or do I need to lay down my right to help build someone up?”