Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Willing though Unwilling

19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them.20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. 24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.  I Corinthians 9:19-27

You know that feeling when you know what you should do but you don’t have the motivation to do so? Of course you do. Everyone wrestles with that. Too often in my life it seems that the lack of motivation becomes my motivation to avoid my responsibility.  In other words, my excuse for disobedience is that I don’t want to obey. That sounds terrible when I say it out loud doesn’t it? Which is why, for the most part, I won’t.
Here’s the thing—the Bible absolutely destroys this as an excuse. Look at Paul’s philosophy of ministry. In vs19-22 outline his strategy; do whatever it takes to minister the gospel to people. Why? Vs23. For the sake of the gospel. See, that’s the key. Paul’s motivation wasn’t something that came from inside, it came from outside. Here’s what I have to remind myself of—the gospel is worth it whether or not I feel like it. Jesus is worthy of everything I can offer, even when I don’t like offering anything.
In verse 24 Paul illustrates what he means. Run like you mean it, he says. I find it very interesting that he looks to sports for his analogy. We often have all the motivation we need for other things, don’t we? We can find time for a game, or for whatever else, when we can’t find time to walk in obedience to the one who loved us and gave Himself for us. Don’t misunderstand, this isn’t about guilting us into something. It’s about diagnosing a heart issue that the gospel can fix.
Now in verse 27 we see how Paul willed to obey God even when he wasn’t willing. He disciplined himself. Literally translated, he gave himself a knockout punch. His point is that he made a choice about how to live. He would live for God’s glory. He would be all things to all men, even when those men were mocking him, unjustly accusing him, or stoning him. Why? For the sake of the gospel. Jesus was worth it. Jesus’ message was worth it.
The reminder for me, and for all of us, is that Jesus is worthy whether I feel like it or not. I can walk in obedience even when I don’t feel like walking in obedience. I can trust His promises-that there is joy in His presence and that I’ll find that joy as I continue to obey. I can be willing even if I’m not willing. Even when the flesh screams “No!”, the new me, the real me, the eternally remade into the image of Jesus me can say “Yes”, and walk in obedience to the glory of God.