Paul again here shows his passion for Christ when he says he is obligated and compelled to preach the Gospel. I recently read a biography of Mother Teresa. I am struck by how she and others who work for God do so out of love and thankfulness to Christ. Paul never forgets how God reached into his life.
The next paragraph of today’s reading seems to me to be a call for peace. God knows that our human tendency is to categorize and judge people or at the very least wish that they would see things as we do. Paul in this paragraph exhorts us to have patience and compassion for those who may see things differently. You may be familiar with Paul’s statement, “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” (v. 22). Paul states in verse 22 that to the weak, he would become weak. What compassion he shows here and what patience for those with a weak conscience. (Remember Paul’s discussion of not eating meat sacrificed to idols; he agreed that an idol is a worthless piece of wood, but said that some “weaker” Christians would be offended at the thought of eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols). Often with someone less mature it’s hard to show patience and mercy but Paul does it for the sake of his first love, Jesus.
Perhaps that is the key to loving behavior; we sacrifice our rights because we love Jesus. Instead of pushing, we stand aside. Instead of being hard-hearted we ask, “what does this person need from me?” and try to put our wishes aside. Paul would say that it is for the Kingdom.