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
Have you ever wondered if maybe the reason why the gospel no longer satisfies you the way that it used to is that you have stopped sacrificing your needs, wants, desires and opinions for the sake of other people? Could it be that you have been missing out on your “share in the blessings” of the gospel because you have desisted from making yourself “a slave to everyone”?
Oh, dear brothers and sisters, should we not expect that the more important we make the gospel in our lives, the more we will reap of its blessings? How can we be delighted by that which we do not cherish?
And yet the gospel delights us in the most counter-intuitive manner. It demands that we deny ourselves in order to benefit others. Because Paul cherished the gospel, he allowed other people’s views, feelings and emotions to impact how he chose to live—even if those views, feelings or emotions were wrong or small-minded. For Paul, the blessedness of the gospel was gained by sacrificing his own freedoms—by not doing what he wanted to do, but by denying himself for the sake of others.
This may not seem to make any sense. In fact, the only way to make sense of the gospel is to realize that it makes sense of all reality. It is to realize that it is the one thing which is worth pursuing above all else and that no pursuit is truly worthy unless it has the advancement of the gospel as its end goal.
That is why it makes sense to be willing to allow other peoples’ views, feelings or emotions to shape how we choose to live. If something would make them more receptive to the gospel, shouldn’t we long to do it? It might be not eating pork, or refraining from going on and on about your political opinions, or putting more thought into how you dress, or choosing not to upgrade to a fancier car, or learning to speak another language. If any of these changes would make it more likely for people to receive the good news of the gospel from you, should you not willingly and joyfully do it for the sake of those who have not yet come to know Christ?
The gospel is a beautiful thing. It teaches us that our sins have been paid for, that Christ is on the throne, and that He must be worshiped. But it is also a dangerous thing. It expects that we will lay everything else aside for its sake. It expects that our lives will look different because of it. Let us not fail to share in the blessing of the gospel.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Can you think of a time when you denied yourself in some way in order to make the gospel more attractive to someone else?
- Is there anything in your life right now that you could let go of that might make other people more receptive to the gospel?
- Are you allowing the gospel to motivate how you act, think and speak?
Red Light— Green Light
Play a game of red light, green light.
- One person is the leader, while the others are racing to get to the finish line.
- When the leader says, “Green Light Go”, the racers can run or walk toward the finish line.
- When the leader says, “Red Light Stop”, everyone freezes where they are. Whoever gets to the finish first is the winner.
Discuss how the person leading gives us the freedom to GO when they give us permission, but we are also subject to their authority when they say STOP. Talk about how when we want to share about Jesus, we have the freedom to GO, but sometimes people and circumstances take over which may cause us to stop. Pray about how to continue to share the Good News.