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1 Corinthians 9:15-23 - Homilies By C. Lipscomb

Reasons for this self denial.

The rights had been resigned, the power to use his privileges had been unused, and the obligation, self assumed, was to be perpetual. Did any one suspect otherwise? "Better for me to die" than this matter of boasting should be taken from me. No ground for boasting existed in the mere preaching of the gospel; but he could claim and did claim that, in renouncing his right to a support and making other exceptional sacrifices, he was entitled to the boast of preaching a free gospel. A woe is upon him if he preach not the gospel, a necessity he cannot evade while true to his moral nature, and yet a necessity which he will transmute and glorify by his magnanimity in serving without remuneration. Rights; what were they? Where there was such an overpowering sense of the goodness of God and the grace of Christ as had been manifested in his personal salvation and in conferring upon him the apostleship, "better die" than measure duty by mere equivalence of action. Out of the depths of gratitude the man rises, not to the attitude of an apostle, but an apostle who felt with the utmost intensity the obligations of sentiment no less than those of principle. Freely had he received, and freely would he give, so freely indeed as to part with a portion of freedom and to gain by his loss; and in this and by means of this he had his reward. Relinquishing his rights and descending to the condition of a slave, he accommodated himself to the infirmities and prejudices of others so as to save the greater number. Whenever he could evince his regard for the Jewish nation and conform to its customs and usages without compromising Christianity, he became "as a Jew unto the Jews." Nor did he limit his concessions to his own countrymen, but he became "all things to all men," never yielding the truth, never compromising a principle, never making conscience subservient to prudence, never finding the supreme law of action in any utility, and always resolute to concede points only indifferent and equally resolute to maintain that things indifferent involved no moral obligation. And why all this? There were two reasons for it: one was for the good of the large number, "gain the more;" and the other was the benefit to himself—a follow "partaker with you" in the blessings of the gospel. "Up to this point he has been speaking of his self denial for the sake of others; here he begins to speak of it for his own sake. It is no longer 'that I may save some,' but 'that I may be a partaker of the gospel with you'" (Stanley).—L.

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