For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!1 Corinthians 9:16 NIV
I have read this verse a countless number of times. And, until the most recent reading, I had just seen it as something that applied personally to Paul and his calling as an apostle. And indeed, it was personal for him. But is this attitude limited to just Paul? Or maybe to the other apostles as well? Maybe to preachers today who have been called into that ministry? Or is it possible that what Paul says about himself is something I should also take to heart?
Just a short while later, in this letter (1 Cor. 12:7), Paul tells us that each of us has been gifted for the common good of the body. Gifts of the Spirit are not limited to just a select number of believers. All of us who are in Christ have been gifted to serve. But, in my experience, many of those who are active in the church’s life seem unaware of their giftedness. Sometimes they actually use their gift, even without a conscious knowledge of what it is. But all too often, they do little beyond attending, contributing little to the church’s life. Their gift, given for the common good, is unused. And this is detrimental to the life of the body.
Compelled to Serve
Can you imagine what our churches would be like if each of us had Paul’s attitude toward his giftedness? That we felt compelled to serve. Serving, not for reward or acclaim, but because that is what our Lord has given us to do. I believe it would transform the church today. And that it would enable us to more effectively be the light of Christ to the dark world around us.