Because we live in a ME-centric environment and the desires of the flesh come so naturally to us, we often think about freedom as the ability to do whatever we want with no consequences. The essence of freedom becomes how many of my appetites can I gorge upon with impunity. 

Paul shows here the true nature of freedom. The point of our freedom is to allow us the ability to be good stewards, not efficient hoarders. It is to allow us to impact consequences not avoid them.

Paul sets aside things he might be able to “get away with” and things he might prefer in order to love and serve others. To share with them the opportunity of the gospel, the message of Jesus Christ.

But Paul is not doing this just to serve others at the expense of himself. He does it so that he may “share in the blessings” of the gospel. 

Our inaccurate view of freedom comes from our inaccurate view of what it means to succeed, to win, to obtain riches. Paul puts aside his superficial, short-term longings in order to satisfy his eternal ones. He sacrifices what matters on a purely surface-level in order to participate in something deeper.

Our call to serve is not just a call to help others. It is a call to share in the blessing of the gospel. The Kingdom of God is a team sport. Only when we move past our self-centered desires can we realize the true nature of our deepest desires. That serving others is not only in their best interest, but ours as well.

“Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible… I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”
– 1 Corinthians 9: 19, 23