We have pointed out that 9:1-15 reveals how pure Paul was. When we use the word pure here, we use it in a biblical sense. For example, the Lord Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8). In this verse to be pure means to be single in motive in seeking after God. If our motive is single, we are pure. Otherwise, we are impure. When we say that Paul was pure and that the Corinthians were impure, we mean that Paul had a single motive in seeking after God, but that the Corinthians had mixed motives. Because they were not pure, they even doubted Paul’s apostleship and wanted to examine him. Second Corinthians 12:16 indicates that some of the believers at Corinth thought that Paul was gaining material profit from them through craft. They could think this way about Paul because their motives were not pure.
Whether or not we are pure depends on our motive. Our motive may be related to our personal benefit, to something which would be a profit to us. The problems in the churches are often related to the seeking of some kind of personal gain. If a particular aspect of the church life is a benefit to you, you may be happy and very much for the church. However, if there is no personal gain for you in the church, you may be unhappy and find fault with the church. When we fail to receive what we expect, we may be unhappy with the church, the elders, or the saints. This indicates that we are not pure, that our motive is for our personal benefit.
We all love the Lord and the recovery. We may even stand up in a meeting and declare that we consecrate ourselves to Christ and the church. We may say that Christ is marvelous and that the church is wonderful. But if our motives are not pure, we may begin to have problems with the church after making such a declaration and consecration. Regarding our motives, we need to be crucified with Christ. We need the cross to touch our motives.
Paul was pure because he knew experientially what it was to be crucified with Christ and to be one spirit with the Lord. He lived a crucified life, and he practiced being one spirit with the Lord. Therefore, he did not have any motive related to personal gain. His motive was wholly in Christ and for Christ. This was the reason Paul could be so pure. Because he was so pure, he could speak in 9:1-15 in a bold, frank, strong, and direct manner. Like a surgeon who has been cleansed of all bacteria, he could operate on the Corinthians. If Paul had not been pure, his impurity would have been imparted to the Corinthians. But because he was pure, he could perform spiritual surgery on the believers at Corinth without contaminating them.
Having seen Paul’s purity in 9:1-15, let us go on in 9:16-23 to see his faithfulness. In verse 16 Paul says, “For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; for woe to me if I do not preach the gospel.” By necessity Paul means a burden which becomes a pressure. Such a necessity, such a pressing burden, to preach the gospel was laid upon him. Thus, he could say, “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel.” Paul did not care how the Corinthians treated him or how they reacted to him. He had a burden which pressed upon him to carry out the work of his ministry. His ministry to preach the gospel was a necessity. Paul knew that if he did not preach, he would suffer loss. This indicates Paul’s faithfulness.
Like love, faithfulness can make us blind. If we are keen to know the attitude and reaction of others toward us, we may not be faithful. It is not faithful to preach the gospel only if others give us a favorable reaction. If we are faithful in preaching the gospel, we shall not care for the way others react or for the way they treat us, because we have a burden, a necessity, to fulfill our ministry. This faithfulness blinds the faithful one to the reaction of others.
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