19 Although I am free from all and not anyone’s slave, I have made myself a slave to everyone, in order to win more people. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win Jews; to those under the law, like one under the law—though I myself am not under the law—to win those under the law. 21 To those who are without the law, like one without the law—though I am not without God’s law but under the law of Christ—to win those without the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, in order to win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some. 23 Now I do all this because of the gospel, so that I may share in the blessings.
1 Corinthians 9:19-23
Maybe it is just me, but I often see logic that is the opposite of what Paul uses when it comes to evangelism and discipleship. Though we would never say it out loud, the logic goes like this: “I am a Christian. I am saved. I am going to heaven. God loves me no matter what. It would be a good idea for me to share my faith and disciple someone. But I don’t have to. God will love me regardless. I am free from that burden.”
Paul, however, uses totally different rationale. His logic goes like this: “I am free. But I have made myself a slave. I am free and use my freedom to win more people. I do what I do in order to share in the blessings of the Gospel that has saved me.”
What in the world is that about?
We tend to say, “I am free. I am not obligated to share.” Paul would say, “I am free. I am a slave to the lost so that they may be saved.” Paul used his freedom in Christ Jesus to love others. It’s how the Gospel works. The more we share in the benefits of the Gospel, the less we looks out for ourselves. The more we are loved by God the Father, the freer we become to give our lives away to others. The more we are shaped by the Gospel, the less we look to others to shape us. The more the Gospel informs the depth of our being, the more we are released to engage others so they too might experience God and His goodness.
Though Paul was free from his former “Jewishness,” when he was with the Jews, he became like a Jew. Though Paul was free from the law, when he was with the “law keepers,” he lived as they did. Though Paul was not a Gentile by birth, he related to them when he was with them. When he was with the weak in society, Paul lived as though he was weak.
Why? Because he could. He didn’t have to prove himself to anyone. He didn’t have to earn anyone’s favor. He wasn’t better than anyone else. He wasn’t intimidated by anyone else. He was secure in Christ. Thus, he was free. He didn’t have worry what another group would think. He was free to be a slave. He was free to associate. He was free to live for the eternal wellbeing of others.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- What is the rationale you use when it comes to sharing (or not sharing) the Gospel or making a disciple of Jesus? How is it different from Paul’s? Why is that?
- A litmus test for growing in the Gospel is living for the eternal welfare of others. How would you say you are growing in your understanding and experience of the Gospel? How is that demonstrated toward others?
- What is preventing you from being a slave to others so they might be won for Jesus? Is it fear of rejection? Is it fear of disapproval? Is it arrogance? Is it laziness? Is it needing something from people? What is keeping you from genuine freedom so that you can make yourself a slave?
- What are five benefits of the Gospel you have experienced in the past week?