Love vs rights and freedoms
Sometimes we give up something, because we understand that we have no right to it. And sometimes we have the right and waving this right like a flag. Today's apostolic reading is about how the apostle Paul dealt with his rights and how he suggests that we act.
First Epistle of Paul to Corinthians, Chapter 9
In Church Slavonic
2 As other as the apostle, but even to you I am: the seal of the battle of my apostleship you eat in the Lord.
3 My answer to the opposing men is.
4 Is the food not the imams of the power of the pasta?
5 The food is not the imams of the power of a sister, a wife, a wife, like other apostles, and the brethren of the Lord, and Kif?
6 Or is it one and Varnava is not imams that the authorities don’t do anymore?
7 Who warriors with their dues when? Or who is planting grapes, and the fruit of his not hawk? Or who is herding the flock, and from the flock of the flock is not hawk?
8 Food for man is this verb? Isn't this the law?
9 In Moise Law, the law says: Do not stop the verses of the ox threshing. Food about voleh pleases God?
10 Or is it all for us to say? We are written for the sake of hope, as if about hope, we must eat ori orati, and thresh with the hope of our hope to take communion.
11 If we are the spiritual sowing to you, are we great, even if we reap your physical body?
12 When your power communes, do we not more? But they did not make us in this region: but we all are tolerant, and not the cessation of a certain lady of the gospel of Christ.
2 If for others I am not an Apostle, then for you (Apostle); for the seal of my apostleship is you in the Lord.
3 Here is my defense against those who judge me.
4 Or do we not have the power to eat and drink?
5 Or do we not have the power to have a companion sister, a wife, like the other Apostles, and brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?
6 Or do I and Barnabas have no power not to work?
7 What warrior ever serves on his content? Who, having planted grapes, does not eat his fruit? Who, grazing a flock, does not eat milk from the herd?
8 Do I say this in human terms (reasoning)? Does not the law say the same thing?
9 For it is written in the law of Moses: do not block the mouth of a threshing ox. Does God care for oxen?
10 Or, of course, they say to us? So, for us it is written; for whoever plows must plow with hope, and who threshes (must thresh) with the hope of getting what is expected.
11 If we have sown spiritual things in you, is it great if we reap bodily with you?
12 If others have power, do we not more? However, we did not use this power, but we endure everything, so as not to put any obstacles in the gospel of Christ.
In order to understand what this passage is about, we need to go back and read the eighth chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians.
The problem that the apostle Paul examines there is the problem of the idolatrous. In the ancient world it was customary to sacrifice animals to the gods. Animals were killed, some were burned, and some were eaten by priests and other participants in the service. Meat that was served at public meals was also sacrificed to pagan gods. Some of this meat was sold on the market. A number of Corinthian Christians, richer, who could buy any meat, were indifferent to the question of the idolatry and believed that any meat could be eaten, especially since idols did not really exist. With such knowledge, they calmly ate meat at pagan holidays. Other Corinthians, who saw meat only on pagan festivals, where they were handed out to the people, were embarrassed and were not ready to eat meat dedicated to idols. The Apostle Paul does not say directly that the sacrificial offering cannot be eaten. He calls upon those who eat the idolatry, to abandon him for the love of those who are embarrassed. We humans are social and tend to do the same things as everyone else, even considering it wrong. Therefore, the Apostle Paul urges those who eat the idolatry not to seduce those who consider this a sin to eat the idol sacrifice by example. Because for this man Christ died, and by seducing him, the “strong in faith” Corinthians sin against him and against Christ. The chapter ends with the words, "Therefore, if the food tempts my brother, I will not eat meat forever, lest I tempt my brother."
The apostolic reading of this Sunday is a continuation of this topic. In fact, Paul says here that he, like the Apostle, has certain rights. He has the right to eat (including meat) and drink. He has the right to carry his wife with him, as other apostles do. He has the right not to work and live at the expense of those to whom he preaches. Moreover, he brings these people not just words, but the good news about the possibility of peace with God. He justifies his rights by the practice of the Roman Empire and the Mosaic Law. Roman soldiers were paid a salary for military service. The law of Moses, not a human law, but God's, also says that the one who works, the ox, must be able to feed from his labors. Paul spreads this rule to people. A little further, in verse 14, he says that "the Lord commanded those who preach the gospel to live by the gospel." However, despite his right to live this way, Paul does not use it. He does not use it in order not to hinder in any way the preaching of the good news, not to tempt anyone with anything.
What can we learn from this? Sometimes Orthodox Christians believe that we must humble ourselves and give up everything, because we have no right to do so and in general are insignificant beings. But from this passage it is clear that God does not restrict us in everything, does not force us to excessive austerity, does not look at us as nothing, but gives us certain rights and freedoms. For example, the right of an employee to use what he cultivates. People do not always give us this right. For example, in the 1930s, peasants in the USSR were forcibly involved in collective farms and were deprived of the rights to the products they produced. In 1932-33, this led to a massive famine, and against those who allowed themselves to take something from the collective farm field, the “law of three spikelets” was applied, according to which they were planted for 10 years. But God gives us this right and gives us freedom in many ways. And the apostle Paul gives us an example of how we can deal with our right and our freedom. We can take advantage of them and do not sin – but we can not use for the love of someone. For the sake of someone not to seduce, not embarrass or for some other reasons. For example, we can give up our place in the queue to a person who is in a great hurry, although we have every right not to yield. We can keep silent so as not to offend a person when we are right in a dispute – although we have every right to say that we were right. We can be sure that we can not fast – and fast in order not to seduce others. The Apostle Paul gives us an example of love coming from freedom. And, probably, it is important to have this inner sense of freedom in order to act out of love.
And what important thought did you see in this reading?
Questions for Thought
Blessed Theophylact of Bulgaria
Blessed Theodorite of Kir
St. Theophan the Recluse
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