Lord, show me what really counts in this life.
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)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
It is challenging indeed to become all things to all people without somehow compromising the Word along the way.
Paul continues the theme of voluntary sacrifice in order to fulfill the mission God has given him to proclaim the Gospel. He realizes, though, that to effectively evangelize one cannot adopt a one-size-fits-all attitude. The Gospel message must be applied and packaged in the language and the context of his hearers. Paul explains that, because of his rootedness in Christ, he is flexible in his evangelistic approach and can relate the Gospel to his current situation. He isn’t promoting situational ethics, where codes of conduct are based on cultural expectations alone, as if there were no absolutes; neither is he suggesting that there are no fundamentals of the Gospel that transcend time and place. However, for the Gospel to take root in individual lives it has to be presented in the language and setting people understand. The message of the Gospel remains constant, but the messenger often chooses to surrender his or her kingdom rights and possibly comforts for a higher purpose.
Paul goes on to speak of the need for training if he is effectively to fulfill his role as Christ’s messenger. How such training is needed today—not just in practical tips for ministry and discipleship, but in a vigorous regime of prayer, fasting, fellowship, and engagement with Scripture. We must be suited to wherever we are placed, so that “by all possible means I might save some” (22). Our reward for submitting to such a training regime and being ready to advance the Gospel will endure for all eternity (25).
Where are the places that God has put you to be his messenger? On whom could your life and witness have an impact?
Lord, keep my eye on the prize as I navigate a life full of distractions designed to derail me.