The Apostle Paul uses put in a new context in today’s passage. 1 Corinthian 9:12 comes in the midst of a passage where Paul is reasoning that missionaries deserve to be paid or supported for their work. Just as Jewish priests were given food and clothing, so those that serve Christ preaching and teaching deserve to be cared for.
“If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more?
But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.“
Paul is saying that they may have the right to support, but they did not insist upon it. They suffered and put up with less so that the gospel of Christ would go forward. He was not bragging, but simply stating the fact that he was compelled to preach the gospel. In verse 16 Paul says, “Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. ” His motivation was pure, without complications, as He presented the gospel so that others might know Christ and be redeemed.
What is your motivation for telling others about Christ? Paul was so driven to tell others he could not, not tell them. His desire was for them to know Christ, to be freed from the bondage of sin, to have the eternal assurance of salvation and to have hope for living each day. This was what drove him to tell as many as he could, regardless of the danger or hardships to himself. Do you want others to be free in Christ? Do you want to see them in eternity worshipping and rejoicing with Jesus?
Consider this, Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I am compelled to speak of the love of Jesus, to speak of His redeeming power and to speak of the assurance I have of spending eternity with Him. Think about this in the context of John 13:34-35 ““A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Are you compelled to speak out for Jesus because of your love for Jesus and for those who need to know Him? Are you willing like Paul, to put up with anything so that others can know Him? As Christians we need to be willing to put up with the world’s attitude and rejection, so that someone may come to know Jesus as their Savior. As Paul reasoned, “it is worth it.”