1 Corinthians 8-9, Psalm 62
Paul’s willingness to become foolish in the world’s eyes and so reflecting the folly of the cross is demonstrated in Paul refusing the right to eat meat and receive pay as a minister of the Gospel. Out of love, our Lord gave His body up to death that we might receive life. For Paul, this crucial event shapes our every practice. Even though idols are nothing (1 Corinthians 8:4), a mature Christian should be willing to refuse to eat meat sacrificed to false gods, even if that means refusing meat altogether (1 Corinthians 8:9-13). This certainly is considerate, but Paul’s extended justification for paying ministers of the Gospel (2 Corinthians 8:7-14) is flipped on its head when Paul declares he would rather die than have the opportunity to preach the Gospel freely, without pay, taken away (1 Corinthians 9:15-18). To many, working for free is the ultimate madness. Paul certainly had his needs met through various churches, but for this particular church he knew their struggles with vacillating between the extremes of licentiousness or pride in hyper-spirituality. Thus Paul wants nothing to do with reinforcing the idea that his work has anything to do with filling his pockets, or propping himself up as a super apostle. Rather, this Gospel about Jesus was so precious to him, that he did not want its value to be demeaned (2 Corinthians 9:16). That helps us understand why Paul foolishly made himself a slave/servant (in Greek doulos can mean both) to all peoples so that he would win many to Jesus. Again, Paul doesn’t mean anyone literally owns him, but that he is willing to make great sacrifices to demonstrate the power of a seemingly foolish but cross-shaped life that makes sacrifices so that others might receive life forever.