I read Chapter 8 earlier today and now as I read it again The Lord opened something up to me. As I read it again, I was curious why Paul seems to out of nowhere rant about how he has every right to take an income from his ministry, but doesn't. Then it came to me (which is why it is so important to be committed to prayer, especially before you read The Word), Paul didn't start ranting out of nowhere, we was continuing his point from chapter 8. In chapter 8 Paul is talking about not being a stumbling block for new or weak believers in what we eat. In chapter 9 he makes several points of what he has freedom to do, but doesn't. Take a wage. Take a wife. Eat what he wants. Drink what he wants. Yet, in all these things Paul does NOT partake because he, under NO circumstances, wants to be a stumbling block for others. This reminds me of a friend of mine in New Orleans. He preaches at a truck stop movie theatre every Sunday. His wife does the worship music and preaches, and another guy also preaches. The first thing they say when they start service is tell the drivers (very few are there a second time because they are over the road drivers who just happend to be there) that they will not and never will be taking an offering. They tell the drivers that the time use of the theatre is donated by the truck stop owner and they do not need any money. They go on to say, if you feel compelled to give something, find somone that needs it, and give it to them. Can you imagine how much that opens the drivers ears to the message? They no longer have to wonder, "ok...ok....when's the plate coming around, when are they going to set the hook?"
That is much like what Paul is talking about....DON'T DO OR SAY ANYTHING THEY MAY CAUSE OTHERS TO STUMBLE. This is one reason that it is so CRUCIAL that we seek to live holy. The world is watching! Your friends are watching! Do you look like the world? Why would they seek The Lord when they are seeing hypocricy in what is suppose to be the Body of Christ?
I would like to share another quick story, and I hope this is received in the spirit it is intended. The intention is to encourage you in the Lord, not to draw attention to myself. I AM NOTHING! I AM A WORTHLESS PAGAN APART FROM CHRIST! This happend today because of the transformation The Lord has done in me in that last 5 years. I WOULD NOT HAVE DONE THIS 5 YEARS AGO! A freind of mine that orders hundreds of shirts a year from me, and has for the last 14 years, refferred someone to me today. The guy has quite a bit of money and wanted me to print a bunch of T-Shirts to start a T-Shirt line that he had been working on. He had all the design concepts and was ready to launch his venture. After he asked me questions to assure himself that I would not steal his ideas, he shared the line with me. He started telling me what the shirts would say, and he was expecting me to share in his laughter and excitment as he was going through the design sayings. When I wasn't responding the way he expected, he asked if I understood. I said, "yes I understand and I appreciate the opportunity, but I am not interested in printing anything like this." He said, "are you sure, what if the price was right?" I said, "it doesn't matter what the price is, I will not print them." I got off the phone and praised God for two things, 1) that He has transformed me to the point where I don't care about money and I will not dishonor His Name for anyone; 2) I was able to bring glory to My King in front of employees that I have been praying to receive Christ for over 3 years.
The ultimate point is, we need to bring glory to Our King for His Name Sake and because the world is watching.
1Co 9:14-17 Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.
15 But I have used none of these things, nor have I written these things that it should be done so to me; for it would be better for me to die than that anyone should make my boasting void.
16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!
17 For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship.
18 What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel.
19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more;