…I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel… (1 Corinthians 9:22-23 NIV)
This verse reveals Paul’s approach to his evangelistic work. He is not advocating a compromise of the gospel message, but rather calls for consideration, compassion and empathy as the good news about Jesus Christ is shared with people from different social and ethnic backgrounds.
Other translations give more details of the approach Paul would take in order to bring people to faith:
‘…I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some.’ (1 Corinthians 9:22 NLT)
‘…I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life.’ (1 Corinthians 9:22-23 The Message).
Paul would ‘try to find common ground’, ‘experience things from their point of view’ and ‘become just about every sort of servant there is’. This is how far he would go for the sake of the gospel.
Jesus always looked to the interests of others and met people where they were in order to share the gospel of grace with them, even those people the law and the culture of the day would have excluded. There is the story of the woman at the well in John 4:
‘When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”… The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” (John 4: 7, 9-10)
Can we participate in Jesus’ ministry and relate to people in this way, with compassion and empathy, for the sake of the gospel? If so we will have
‘the same mindset as Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 2:5), and the same evangelistic approach as the Apostle Paul, and who knows, some may even be led into a relationship with their Saviour and live a ‘God-saved life’.
Father, help us have a heart for people, so that in our relationships we can serve others by searching for common ground, joining with Jesus as he ministers to them in their world. For the sake of the gospel, we pray. In Jesus’ name,
Have a good week participating with Jesus,