The heading at the beginning of this chapter says – Paul Surrenders his Rights (ESV). The term surrender conjures up images of conflict and defeat with the displaying of a white flag or the lowering of the colours (standard). Not so in this case, Paul is saying that he has made a decision willingly, this is not a result of a forced decision through conflict, although Paul had his share of that. In v12 and v15 he states “we have made no use of these rights”
In a world that seems so full of people demanding their rights, this teaching comes as an example of the opposite to us. Verse 12 also goes on to state the basis of this chapter – “but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ.” Why could or why would, Paul make this decision of surrender?
We read in the Song of Solomon Ch.2:4 – He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love. Paul knew the victorious banner of Jesus over him; he had seen Jesus and the result was he declared himself free. (v1) The cross of Jesus and his resurrection had set Paul free, although he had declared himself in 1Timothy Ch.1:15 – “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” This freedom, which Paul accepted, enabled him to be faithful to a stewardship entrusted to him. This was a responsibility to which he must be faithful, whether he benefits from it materially or not. That responsibility is to proclaim the Gospel and share in its blessings. (v23)
Verse 19 quotes – “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them.” Paul approaches people where they are at in life and their circumstances, hence the statement in v22 – “I have become all things to all people.”
Remember this though, the Holy Spirit will not guide you to go against Scripture or make you do what gives you an uneasy, unsettled feeling within. The Holy Spirit will never lead you to be untrue to yourself or to violate your conscience, although there are times when we are taken outside our comfort zones to enable growth. Wisdom is required then and discipline to find and ensure we are on the correct path. Paul finishes in v26 – 27 “So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”
So as servants of Christ we are free – free to let go and let him! Paul had been freely given and his desire was to let nothing come in the way of preaching the Gospel – he freely gave.
Brave surrender is a worship song by Kim Walker-Smith and states “I’m letting go,” so dwell on this passage and ask yourself am I ready for giving up my perceived rights for Jesus?