I Cor 9:16 "Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach.
Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!"
I ran across this verse and it really caught my attention like verses do at times. I probably say that at the beginning of each post don't I? Anyway....Paul was explaining to the Corinthians how, as an apostle, he had some rights to the support of those he ministered to. Food. Drink. You know. Yet while he was among them he never insisted on this. I guess he just kept making and selling his tents. Supporting his own missionary efforts with the work of his two hands. He boils it all down in this statement. Like it really doesn't matter who appreciates him or who funds his ministry he has to do it....he is compelled to do it...and woe to him if he doesn't. Who talks like that? Woe to me...what on earth does that mean? OK...so I looked it up...but you knew I would, didn't you? Woe: grievous distress, affliction, or trouble. That's intense. Grievous distress, affliction, trouble, grief, lamentation to me if I don't do this thing I'm compelled to do.
Of course, I found this verse in a old book called My Utmost for His Highest. It makes sense, doesn't it, that an author who would offer his utmost would share his insight on "Woe to me". No one gives their utmost anymore...maybe their "best" but believe me that can be such a cop-out. I tried my best...sure...but did I give my utmost? I wonder. I wonder too, is there anything compelling me? I don't always feel compelled. I do desire to be a light in the darkness, to offer the hope that I've found. To share the good news of my experience with Jesus. Yes, we can all do that! But I think maybe, there is another facet here...this was Paul's passion, his calling. (His personal calling just happened to be bringing the message of Jesus Christ to the Gentile world and aren't we all glad that he was so compelled!) Thankfully he had some practical skills that gave him the freedom to pursue his passion. I just can't help but wonder if there would be less people dis-stressed and troubled if they were in tune with the thing that stirred their heart. Please don't mis-read me...I'm not suggesting we strive to perform....and that maybe God will love us more if we do. No, not at all. I'm saying respond. Be compelled.....and then respond.
What makes me feel alive, what stirs up the passion in me. What brings me to action? What thing....if I couldn't do it....would make me say...Woe....stress....sadness....
I have to do that! And I will give my utmost!