“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)
When my oldest son and his family returned from a year in Haiti and with the experience of a disastrous earthquake during their time there, his oldest child decided that her life had to be dedicated to relieving suffering among the people in third world countries. Haiti has the sad distinction of being one of the poorest countries in the entire world.
Apparently my granddaughter’s experience of seeing the suffering caused by poverty and then the suffering the Haitians endured through an earthquake awakened in her a sense of mission. She is now obtaining an education in Ottawa that will make it easy for her to work with governments and humanitarian organizations to relieve human suffering in the most efficient manner possible.
When we find such an awakening to a certain calling in life, we rightly call it a divine command. We learn the will of God for us partly through experiences in life and partly in assessing ourselves and learning what gifts we have been born with or acquired during our growing years.
The apostle Paul examined his life and saw that he had a wonderful knowledge of Scripture. Through that knowledge and the teaching of the Holy Spirit he realized that Jesus was the promised Messiah. He not only experienced the transforming power of the Gospel in his own life but he was awakened to a concern to publish this Good News about Jesus to the world. This was his divine command.
So Paul preached from compulsion. He was driven to fulfill God’s will for him to go around the known world and preach Christ to all who would hear and call them to repentance and faith.
So far, so good. It can be wonderful to sense a call from the Lord to a desirable calling. Then too, there is a certain air of romance in the notion of going out to preach in countries far away.
Where the problem comes in when we hear this call from God is seen in Paul’s comment to the Galatian Christians. Galatians 6:17 (NIV) “From now on, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.” Paul is referring to the scars he bore on his body as a result of the physical abuse he endured for following Jesus.
Being called of God to salvation was, for Paul, a call to sacrifice at the deepest level. Yet, as Paul said in our verse for today, He is compelled to serve the Lord in spite of the personal cost to himself. No cost is too great to pay in service for the One we love. As long as Jesus is praised, we will suffer willingly.
Do you find yourself in just such a position today? You came to Jesus for salvation and then your life fell apart. It may not have happened at the beginning, it may not have happened all at once, but now all you can see is havoc and despair.
Adopt Paul’s attitude and be persuaded that you MUST, you SHALL persevere regardless of the cost because God has appointed you to this suffering in order that you would have the eternal crown promised to all His people.
Remember, no cost is too great to pay in service for the One we love. As long as Jesus is praised, we will suffer willingly.