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1 Corinthians 9:15-23 - Homilies By R. Tuck

St. Paul an exception.

He wishes it to be understood that he does precisely what he thinks to be right, but does not wish the peculiarity of his conduct to be made a model for others. There are things in life concerning which each man must make his own individual stand, upon which he may find himself compelled to take an individual and exceptional line. And he may do this without opposition to others, without making himself in any way objectionable. St. Paul found sufficient reason for the adoption of a singular course of conduct in relation to his apostleship or ministry. He would receive nothing in a way of payment or reward from the Churches among whom he laboured. His reasons probably were:

1. That the older apostles never quite approved of his work, and he found it better to act in an independent way, and make no one responsible for his modes of work, or the advanced truths which were given him to teach.

2. That he was, throughout his missionary labours, keenly watched by active and bitter enemies, who were ever ready to misrepresent his conduct, and fashion accusations against him. He well knew how promptly they would seize on his receiving payments, and declare that he was mercenary, and only preached for selfish ends.

3. That he had, in his hands, a kind of skill—that of tent making—which he could readily turn to account wherever he went. Probably it was the second of these reasons that more particularly influenced him. It was most important that he should give his enemies no opportunities or advantages against him; and he would even refuse some of his rights and privileges, if the assertion of them could be made into a hindrance of his work. The point to be considered from his exceptional conduct is the force of the double law that must rule a Christian life. We must ask both what is lawful and what is expedient, both what is necessary and what is becoming. We must beware of forcing our rights, as they may stand by the rule and by the law; and we should see that our personal and individual conduct must be ordered so that the impressions which others receive from it shall be helpful to them and to the Church. We must watch against even unintentionally causing offence and hindering Christ's work.—R.T.

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