Bible Reading Day 241
Day 241: August 29 (1 Corinthians 9)
Having answered the specific questions in their letter, Paul now goes on to answer an implied question from the Corinthian church – “what right do you have to speak into our lives?” There is a great deal of insight into spiritual authority in this chapter, and we would benefit from a careful reading to help us receive all that God has for us.
To those who questioned his rights as an apostle, Paul reminds them of his qualifications: he saw the Lord (on the road to Damascus), he was sent by the Lord (apostle means one who is sent), and it was Paul’s work that led the Corinthians to Christ. It was the outworking of obedience in fruitfulness that gives Paul authority and freedom.
He goes on to outline the debt of provision the Corinthians owe him as the farmer who sowed the seeds of their faith, the shepherd who brought them into God’s flock. Yet he never claimed the payment of that debt. He is not boasting or claiming to be greater because of this sacrificial act – rather he feels so compelled to preach the good news that he can’t do anything else. Paul is a man with a vision, and nothing can stop him!
It is precisely this self-giving attitude that imbues Paul with spiritual authority. It is the willingness to live against the status quo that sets him apart from others who demand authority and use it to direct others. Paul has chosen the pathway of self-sacrifice, living as a Jew among Jews, and in weakness among the weak, so that his life will lead others to Jesus. In this way he runs the race with purpose and trains himself to do only what serves others.
So how can the most prolific apostle teach us about spiritual authority? Well authority is the fruit of obedient service, not bestowed by title or position. Authority is revealed by humility and the willingness to adapt to the needs of others. If it is demanded, it is lost, and if it is sought as a goal, it is elusive. Rather, authority comes from being like Jesus – going to the place of need, relinquishing rights and position, being obedient to God, and bearing fruit as a result.
How can you step into authority in that spirit? And who in your life deserves honor as a spiritual authority who has enabled you to bear fruit?
Have a great day!