08/27/17 Woe to Me

READING: Psalms 120-122, 1 Corinthians 9

“Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!”

1 Corinthians 9:16

Today is the Lord’s Day, a day when pastors around the world will stand before God’s people to proclaim His Word. They will preach in churches, in tents, in deserts, under trees, on street corners, in prisons, and in other places. Their languages in which they preach will be many. Some will use amplification, but others will use only their voices. Some will broadcast their preaching to thousands; others will preach to only two or three in the backwoods of nowhere. Educated folks will preach, but so will some who can barely read the Word they proclaim. We seldom think about this reality, but some will also preach despite the risk to their health and freedom.  

And, all will preach because of the call of God on their lives.

The apostle Paul understood that compulsion. He told the Corinthians that he preached not because of some financial motive to secure funding from them, but because “necessity” was laid on him (1 Cor. 9:16). Nor did he have reason to boast about his position or his preaching, for he did the work simply because God had called him. His calling was so clear, and his drive to preach so strong, in fact, that he could say, “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Cor. 9:16). The prophets Jeremiah (Jer. 20:9) and Amos (Amos 3:8), in addition to Peter and John in the early days of the church (Acts 4:20), felt similar compulsions under the will and calling of God. None could do anything less than preach the Word regardless of the receptivity of their audience or the cost of their obedience.

I can make no claim to compare to any of these men, but I do understand the necessity of preaching the Word. I serve with both Southeastern Seminary and the IMB – and I love both roles – but I am first a preacher. That was my original calling, and it has never wavered. Any other role that would hinder that work would simply never work for me. I, like so many others, would suffer the woes of disobedience were I not to preach. 


  • Pray for pastors who proclaim the Word today.
  • If you are a pastor, meditate briefly on God’s call on your life.

PRAYER: “God, thank You for calling preachers. Help all of us to stay focused on Your Word.”

TOMORROW’S READING:  Psalms 123-125, 1 Corinthians 10:1-18

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