FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY – EPISTLE: 1 Corinthians 9:16-27

I have no right to boast just because I preach the gospel.  After all, I am under orders to do so.  And how terrible it would be for me if I did not preach the gospel!  17If I did my work as a matter of free choice, then I could expect to be paid; but I do it as a matter of duty, because God has entrusted me with this task.  18What pay do I get, then”?  It is the privilege of preaching the Good News without charg-ing for it, without claiming my rights in my work for the gospel.  19I am a free man, nobody’s slave; but I make myself everybody’s slave in order to win as many people as possible.  20While working with the Jews, I live like a Jew in order to win them; and even though I myself am not subject to the Law of Moses, I live as though I were when working with those who are, in order to win them.  21In the same way, when working with Gentiles, I live like a Gentile, out-side the Jewish Law, in order to win Gentiles.  This does not mean that I don’t obey God’s law; I am really under Christ’s law.  22Among the weak in faith I become weak like one of them, in order to win them.  So I become all things to all men, that I may save some of them by whatever means are possible.  23All this I do for the gospel’s sake, in order to share in its blessings.  24Surely you know that many runners take part in a race, but only one of them wins the prize.  Run, then, in such a way as to win the prize.  25Every athlete in training submits to strict discipline, in order to be crowned with a wreath that will not last; but we do it for one that will last forever.  26That is why I run straight for the finish line; that is why I am like a boxer who does not waste his punches.  27I harden my body with blows and bring it under complete control, to keep myself from being disqualified after having called others to the contest.