Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate.  Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach.  For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.

 
 
 

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Thought for the Evening
9-03

BEING FREE

"Have you seen this man [Goliath] who has come up? Surely, to defy Israel he has come up. And it shall be that the man who kills him, the king will enrich him with great riches, and will give him his daughter, and will make his father's house free in Israel."
A soldier to young David, in 1Samuel 17:25

"Am I not an apostle? Am I not free?"
Paul, in 1Corinthians 9:1

There are different kinds of freedom. To be free from sin is one kind of liberty. To be freed from a prison or a sickness are other kinds of liberty. Then, there is freedom from taxation, as in the case of King Saul's law, when he promised to make "free" in Israel the family of the man who would fight and kill Goliath (1Sam. 17:25).

Paul mentions yet another kind of freedom in his letter to the Corinthian saints; namely, his freedom as an apostle from having to labor at an ordinary job in order to support himself financially. It was the will of God, he explained, that those that preach the gospel should live from the gospel (1Cor. 9:14); that is, they should be supported financially by those to whom they minister. "For if we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we reap your carnal things?" (1Cor. 9:11).

But being free is more than what it first appears to be. It is broader in scope than first meets the eye. Paul's liberty included the option to work at a public job if he chose to do so, and sometimes he did. Whenever he was in the area of Achaia, where the city of Corinth was, he refused to allow those saints to support him. At one point, he lived among them for eighteen months, working as a tent-maker and taking nothing from them.

Paul's plan didn't work. He had hoped that by refusing their money, the Corinthian saints would understand that he loved them, was willing to suffer for them, and had their best interest at heart. But they turned from him anyway. Paul's refusal to receive money from the saints in Corinth was intended for their good, not Paul's. His doing so was an implicit challenge to the false teachers to also teach their doctrine for nothing, to show their love for the Corinthian saints as Paul had done. The false teachers and the saints in Corinth who followed them missed the point.

Paul had used his liberty to receive financial support from certain congregations and to refuse it from others, based upon what was best for them. Paul was not obligated to receive tithes and offerings; he was free to receive them, which means he was also free not to.

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