God Calls Us to Serve All

Frontline Devotion for February 1, 2012 (Season of 'Epiphany')

By: David Shaffer

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1 Corinthians 9:19-23

1 Corinthians 9:19-23

Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 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. 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. 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. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

To the ________ I became like a ________, so as to win the _________. I’m sorry, what? Paul obviously never heard the phrase “Be Yourself.” I cannot even begin to count the times my parents said that my siblings or me. I heard it all the time from teachers, guidance counselors, and coaches and various other adults. I hear other parents tell their own kids, “Hey, just be you. People will like you for you.” I cannot recall ever hearing a parent say, “Hey, just wear these designer clothes, use these slang words and listen to this music so people will like you.”

So obviously Paul isn’t as terrific as we’ve been taught. Oh wait; Paul is the founder of our church. Paul preached words spoken directly to him from Jesus, the greatest teacher ever. I must have missed something, so I read the passage again, and again…and again. Finally, it hits me. Paul is actually following Jesus’ ways extremely closely.

How did Jesus treat tax collectors? He ate dinner with them. How did he treat the adulteress at the well in Samaria? He asked her for a drink and told her of “living water.” He helped people that others ignored. He spoke to outcasts and healed lepers. He accepted the people that the religious leaders wrote off as un-savable.

Paul says that he becomes like these people, but he never abandoned his principles and the ways of Christ. He won people over by showing care, compassion and tolerance for them, no matter whom they were or what their situation was. Paul did not convert everyone to whom he preached. He says that - “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” He didn’t change to gain popularity for himself. He changed to gain acceptance and ultimately teach people the glory of God.

Let us think today about the people that we might be ignoring or glancing over because either we do not want them in our church or because we have decided that they do not really want to know Jesus. Let us reach out to everyone in this world, no matter his or her race, ethnicity, creed, past or current situation. Let us be people that live like Jesus (and Paul) did, helping and caring for the sinners and outcasts, the weak and the lawless, the saved and the unsaved.

Dear Gracious God, give us to the strength to share your message with all people. Help us to reach out to others and allow us to get to know people unlike ourselves so that we may share your glory with them. We have received your blessings, and our reward for our service is eternity at your side. Thank you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.