My title, “The Farmer Smiles” is about perspective and will make sense in a minute.
1 Corinthians 9:16 – “I am compelled to preach the gospel. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel”
KJV “necessity is laid upon me”
How serious was Paul about this necessity, this compulsion?
These words actually came as Paul defends himself against detractors who speak against the support he was receiving financially.
He says “don’t we have the right to food and drink, the right to take a wife along with us …” or are the rules different for Paul and Barnabas?
Soldiers are paid, he says, farmers eat of their crops. Even an Ox eats unmuzzled while he treads out the grain. But then he turns away from rights and says in v12 “we don’t use this right, on the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.”
v12 says “put up with anything
v15 says “I would rather die than
v16 “yet when I preach the gospel (good news)”
How do we fight off the attacks of the evil one through details? Tell the Good News. Oh satan sure attacks in the minutia doesn’t he? Sometimes the minutia isn’t so minute. Sometimes hunger pains and growling stomachs seek to drown out the sounds of praise and can soften the force of the gospel. But keep focusing on the “Gospel” – euangelizo = proclaim, preach, glad tidings
It is hard to give good news and complain at the same time isn’t it? Oh but it can happen
Several years ago, I had just finished accompanying our choir on the piano for their Christmas Musical. I play the piano, and am more than comfortable as a player and leader, but that style was outside my comfort zone. It was, for me, a hard piece of music that took a lot of extra practice. It was something i did because it was needed but I would rather not have done it. it even caused me more than a bit of panic and anxiety as I played. I got through it, and did well, and as we finished the last note on the big finale, a great sense of relief and “job well done” rushed over me. I felt good. That last note played, and this precious lady in the choir, standing at the end of the stage right next to the open piano lid, looked at me and smiled and exclaimed “That was Great!” But before I could even say “thank you,” her face changed to disapproving and she continued still on beat “Sure was Loud!” And she turned away. “That was great … sure was loud.”
I sat there stunned, I had just gotten a pat on the back and a smack in the face in the same sentence.
Sometimes it is that way in serving the Lord isn’t it?
So, Paul keeps his heart set on proclaiming the good news. What Good news? Church is growing? No, Jesus Saves. Worship was awesome? No, Jesus Saves. We met the budget? No Jesus Saves, Jesus Saves, Jesus Saves.
So when someone is complaining about the service being 10 minutes too long – Jesus Saves
When someone doesn’t like the carpet color – Jesus Saves
Someone is attacking you or your job – Jesus Saves
Someone seems to always be over your shoulder – Jesus Saves
Paul says “yet”“despite, in spite of, regardless of, there is a necessity laid on my shoulders”
epikeimai = press against, to be imposed; to be urgent
No matter, I can put up with anything because the Gospel has been pressed into my hands, forced to my mouth, plased urgently in my heart
The Gospel … of Jesus Christ and so
Woe to Me if I preach not the gospel
Let us not be distracted with unnecessary battles or pleasures, that we might miss the presentation of the gospel
v19 “I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible”
v22-23 “… i have become all things to all men, so that by all possible means, i might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that i may share in its blessing”
v24 “Run to get the prize” –
What prize? The prize of sharing in the joy of that soul that found Jesus.
The gospel is made up of some many components. Some receive face time, some get the praise, others are never seen. Whether it is a counter and sorter of money, or an AWANA Children’s Leader, a Nursery worker, a Sound Technician, a Door Greeter, a teacher, an encourager, someone who invites … It is all part of the gospel …
In this case, people are the prize for the presenter, The prize is the Gospel … So many different things come together, years, months, weeks, days, comments, love given, and somewhere the finish line is crossed and the prize attained.
The Gospel is planted, sprouts, watered, harvested, processed, turned into flour, sifted, prepared, baked, shipped, purchased, and Someone eats that bread and says “wow that is good” …
… And somewhere … the unknown Farmer Smiles …