And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the Law, as under the Law, that I might gain them that are under the Law; To them that are without Law, as without Law, (being not without Law to God, but under the Law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without Law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some (I Cor. 9:20-22).
This verse is often quoted by both believers and skeptics alike. What did Paul mean when he claimed to be all things to all men? Did he mean, as the skeptics claim, that he would say or do anything just to make others see things his way? Did he view spreading the Gospel of Christ as such an important task that he felt the end would justify any means he had to employ to get the word out?
No, that was not what Paul was saying at all. As should be obvious from a careful study of the Books Paul authored that are included in Scripture, Paul was a man of extraordinary faith. He lived his life guided by the teachings of Jesus. But I certify you, brethren, that the Gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ (Gal. 1:11-12). He would not do anything against the will of God. Paul meant that he would find common ground with those he sought to teach. Instead of approaching them from an unattainable, holier than thou standpoint, he would initially approach them on their level. For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more (I Cor. 9:19).
When sharing Christ with others, we would do well to remember Paul's method. If we start out preaching and sound- ing as if we have all the answers, then our target audience will turn away in disbelief. However, if we take the time to get to know them first and to realize the position they occupy in life, then there is more of a chance that they will be receptive to our words. And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples (Matt. 9:10). If we share a meal, discuss concerns we have in common, or work towards the resolution of a mutual goal, this will enable us to gain their attention and trust. The importance is not in what we do or say, but simply in the fact that Christ’s love is visible throughout it all. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren (I John 3:16). After the ice is broken, then we can begin to share in words what we have already demonstrated with our actions.
Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved (I Cor. 10:33).
Thought for Today:
Just because someone can preach a fancy sermon and seems more intellectual than others does not necessarily mean that they change lives for God. The one who truly gets to know someone and shares Christ's love could change someone's heart for Him.
For I Cor. 6:16: See Gen. 2:24. I Cor. 9:9: See Deut. 25:4.
5:11 a railer = one who is verbally abusive, a reviler; 6:9 effeminate = male homosexual who takes the feminine role; abusers of themselves with mankind = sodomites; 7:1 not to touch a woman = not to marry; 7:5 Defraud ye not one the other = Do not deprive each other of marital rights; 7:12 let him not put her away = let him not leave her or divorce her; 7:32 without carefulness = free from anxieties.
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Philemon 1: 4-7
Philemon 1:4 I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers,
Philemon 1:5 Hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints;
Philemon 1:6 That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.
Philemon 1:7 For we have great joy and consolation in thy love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother.