“For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel” (1 Cor 9.16)
Compelled to share the gospel: Do I have to?
I’ve seen people write about this verse as if being a witness is a necessity, as if it’s a obligation.
- Since we are Christians, we are obligated to share.
- God requires it of us.
- We are forced to do it.
The connotation, however, is often negative.
- A dictator compelling people to agree with him. It doesn’t matter what you think, you must obey.
- A parent compelling a child to clean his/her room. The child doesn’t want to, but eventually the child grudgingly complies.
Are we involved in personal evangelism because God REQUIRES it of us?
On the one hand, Evangelism is a Christian duty and obligation.
But should we fulfill our obligation because we HAVE TO or because we WANT TO?
Compelled to share the gospel: I want to.
I think there is a different sense in the word “compel.”
I’ve noticed over my Christian life:
the more vibrant my relationship with Jesus, the more vibrant and vocal my evangelism is.
Out of the overflow of my heart my mouth speaks.
Sharing good news — simply spills out of me.
It’s not something I do. It’s part of who I am.
I am a witness. I’m excited about what God is doing in my life, and I’m excited to share.
I am compelled to share because I’m deeply grateful for what God has done for me.
I can’t help but to talk about God’s activity in my life.
It becomes easy to invite others to “Come and See.” It becomes easy to point out the activity of God. It becomes easy to talk about my faith in respectful conversations with my friends who do not follow Jesus.
Greek Speak: a divine necessity
The Greek word translated “compel” has a wide range of meaning found in the NT, including the sense of coercion.
But in this verse, it’s a divinely ordered necessity in the purposes of God.
It is an action of our free will that we can’t help but to do.
By the calling laid on Paul, he can’t help but to preach the gospel. The desire of his heart is so strong that out of its overflow, he freely speaks.
Let me ask you this?
What do you feel when you read Paul’s line in 1 Cor 9.16? How vibrant is your relationship with Christ?