Vol.IX No.IV Pg.3
June 1972

Free From All Men

Dan S. Shipley

For though I was free from all men, I brought myself under bondage to all, that I might gain the more. (2 Cor.9:19) While the apostle Paul recognized a sense of indebtedness to all men, he was never obligated to any man in such a way as to hinder his obligations to the Lord. How all Christians, especially evangelists, need to be free and under bondage in this same sense!

Paul was free from men because he was not preaching for money. Even though he stoutly maintains his right to be supported by the Corinthians, he foregoes that right in the interests of this particular work. When he did receive wages it did not flavor his teaching; he taught the same things in every church (1 Cor. 4:17). Any man whose teaching is tempered by financial considerations places himself under bondage to men — but in the wrong sense. lie is no longer free to teach all truth by which souls are gained. Those who will not endure sound doctrine always seem able to secure teachers after their own lusts (2 Tim. 4:3). Whether by tacit or declared agreement, such teachers know what subjects they are not to bear down on. Undoubtedly, wages have enticed many to look at certain Bible truths in a compromising light—or at least to muzzle their convictions. Any evangelist who can endure where sound doctrine cannot is never free from all men — he is really their own hireling, to their detriment and his.

Neither was Paul obligated to men because of his sins. Nobody ever had anything on Paul that could place him in a compromising position. Regrettably, the influence of some is seriously impaired by their unbecoming conduct and bad habits.

Such are not unlike the elderly man lamenting over being called a nasty old snuff-dipper by a female friend. When asked about his reply to such a charge he confessed, Well, I couldnt say much at the time — I happened to have a dip of snuff in my mouth. Likewise many Christians become hamstrung by their own sins. With Paul we should be able to say, Be ye imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ.

Furthermore, Paul had no respect- of-person obligations to men. He both spake and applied the whole counsel of God without favoritism, even to rulers and fellow-apostles. Having done this he could rightly claim to be pure from the blood of all men. He reminds Timothy to do nothing by partiality (1 Tim. 5:21). To shield friends and family (or any other sinner) from Bible truth is like hiding life-giving medicine from a sick man. The most urgent need of every sinner is the forgiveness offered through the gospel of Christ. How strange that some Christians would be more concerned about bedside manners than healing the patient; with the favor of men more than their salvation! Such prove themselves to be more the slaves of public opinion than of Christ.

Consequently, we must remain free from all men in order to serve their best interests and gain the more. Our ties with men must never become shackles to hinder their salvation — or to hinder our walking with God.