Paul talked about himself as an example
Some of you mob might ask me if it is all right for me to write to you and tell you all these things. Yes, it is all right. You see, God picked me to be Jesuss special worker, so I’m free to tell you these things. I have seen Jesus, our leader, with my own eyes. I work for him, and I told you mob about him, and now you belong to him. Maybe other people reckon I’m not Jesuss special worker, but you know that I am. You see, you believed what I told you, and now you are Christians. That shows that Jesus sent me to you.
Some people think that maybe Jesus didn’t send me, and they ask me a lot of questions, so I tell them about the way I work for Jesus. I work like this. I never ask people for food or drink. You know, its all right for me to ask for it. It can be my pay, for the work I did when I told them about Jesus. But I never ask for it. If I need anything, I buy it for myself.
And it is all right for me to have a Christian wife and take her everywhere with me, but I don’t do that. Jesuss other special workers, and his brothers, and Peter, they all have wives, and they take their wives with them when they go to other places. But not me. And I think that its only Barnabas and me that work hard to get our own money to pay for the things we need. I don’t think the others do that.
You know, everyone that works gets some sort of pay for their work. You know about soldiers. They don’t have to buy their own food or their gear. And you know about gardeners. They work, and they always eat some of the food they grow. And it is the same for people that look after cows. They work, and they can drink some of the milk they get. You see, it’s right for people to work and then get something for it. So, if my work is to tell you about Jesus, it’s right for you to give me something for my work. But I never ask you to give me anything.
And I’m not just saying what people reckon. God says the same thing in his laws. You see, a long time ago, God gave Moses this law,
“If you get an animal to work for you, you have to let that animal eat something while it works.”*
That is the law. And listen, God wasn’t just thinking about animals when he gave Moses that law. 10 He was thinking about us people too. People have to get food, just like animals do.
Listen to this picture story about the gardeners that grow food. One man digs up the ground and puts seeds in the ground. Then those seeds grow into food plants, and after that, another man gets the food from those plants and puts it in a shed. Those 2 men both worked hard, so they both get some of that food. 11 That garden is a picture of all of you Christians, and those gardeners are like the people that told you God’s good news. You see, we worked hard when we told you God’s good news. We gave you what your spirits needed. So now it is only fair for you to give us the things that our bodies need. But we never ask you to give us anything.*
12 Other people ask you to give them things, and that’s all right for them, so it has to be all right for us too. But we never ask you to give us anything. You see, if we ask for things when we tell people the good news about Jesus Christ, some of them will not listen to that good news. But we want everybody to listen to our message about Jesus, so we never ask anybody for anything. We reckon it’s better to go short of things.
13 You know about the Jewish people that work all the time in God’s ceremony house. They cook the meat that other people bring to give to God. They also get some of that meat for themselves, and that’s good. You see, they get something for their work.* 14 And just like that, our leader Jesus said that his workers have to get something too. He said that the people that hear the good news and get new life, they have to give something to the people that told them that good news, so that Jesuss workers get the food and other things that they need.*
15 Well, I am the one that told you the good news, but I haven’t asked you for anything. And even now, while I write to you, I’m not asking you for anything. I reckon it is better for me to die than to ask you for something. Now I can tell people that I gave you that good news, and I didn’t ask for anything. You got it for nothing, and that makes me happy.
16 You see, God told me to tell the good news to everyone, so I’ve got to do it. If I don’t tell people that good news, God will give me big trouble. So I can’t say, “I’m really good. I tell people that good news.” No. I can’t do that. 17 But suppose I got this job just because I wanted it, then I will want some pay for it. But no, it wasn’t like that. I’m just doing what God told me to do. 18 And I’m very happy when I can give everyone that good news for nothing. That is like my pay. You see, it is all right for me to ask them for those things. I know that. But I don’t do it.
19 You know, I’m a free man and nobody can force me to work for them. But I work for everyone without pay, so that a lot of people will listen to me and believe in Jesus Christ. 20-21 I do it like this. If I’m with my own people, the Jews, I live like a Jew, so the Jews will listen to me and believe in Jesus. I follow the Jewish law like they do. I know that the Jewish law is not really for me any more, but I want the Jewish people to believe in Jesus. (I don’t forget God’s law. I always follow the law that Jesus Christ gave us.)
Or if I’m with people that don’t know the Jewish law, so they never worry about it, I live like they do. I don’t worry about that law either. I live like they do, so they will listen to me and believe in Jesus. 22 Or if I’m with weak people, I become weak too, so they will listen to me. I go to all sorts of people and live like they live. I do everything I can to get them to listen to me, so some of them will believe in Jesus, and God will save them. 23 I do all these things so that I can help more people hear the good news about Jesus Christ, so that I can be happy, together with all the people that believe in Jesus.
24 Now think about the people that run in a race. They all run, but only one of them wins that race and gets the prize. Well, we have to be like those people that run in a race. We have to try hard to win. That is, we have to try hard to do whatever God wants, so that in the end God will give us new life. That will be like our prize. 25 Those people that run in races, they control themselves and train their bodies so they can win a prize, even though that prize will only be good for a little while. But it is better for us. We control ourselves properly so that we will win a prize that will be good for ever. God will give us new life, so that we will live for ever.
26 So, you see, I’m like a good runner that runs in a straight line to the end of the race. And I’m like a fighter that hits and doesn’t miss. 27 I control my body, and I make it do what is right. I want God to give me that good prize. I don’t want God to say to me, “You went wrong. You didn’t do what you told other people to do. So you don’t get new life.”
* 9:9 Deuteronomy 25:4; 1 Timothy 5:18 * 9:11 Romans 15:27 * 9:13 Deuteronomy 18:1 * 9:14 Matthew 10:10; Luke 10:7