ALL THINGS TO ALL PEOPLE
Thank God for people who were prepared to make sacrifices so that you could be brought into God’s family.
Read 1 Corinthians 9:19–27
Paul’s Use of His Freedom
19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
The Need for Self-Discipline
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
New International Version (NIV)
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ReflectHow did you first hear of God’s love for you?
Paul did not change his message as he spoke to different groups of people. Earlier in this letter (1:23) he states that his message is Christ crucified, even though that message is difficult for both Jews and Gentiles to accept. However, here he explains that his methods of sharing that message vary depending on whom he is trying to reach.
More than just altering his methods, Paul alters his lifestyle so as not to get in the way of the message being heard and considered. In Acts 21:26, we see him practicing Jewish customs, even though he was aware that these customs were not necessary as part of his Christian discipleship. He is able to voluntarily do this because he is certain of his freedom in Christ. As he says in Romans 8:1,2, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because… the law of the Spirit… has set you free from the law of sin and death.” He chooses to use his freedom to work hard, and to submit himself to other people’s expectations, in order that some people might be saved.
Think of a family member or close friend who does not know Jesus. What would you be willing to give up, or to do, so that he or she might hear the Gospel?
God, give me the motivation and opportunity to share Your love with others.