Becoming All Things
“To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.”
- 1 Corinthians 9:22
Is this the call of a Christian? To be a people pleaser, or to change your demeanor upon every different person you encounter? To answer these questions, we must really dig into what Paul is saying in this text. He refers to himself as a free man earlier in the chapter, and this is where we can begin to find the answer to this.
Paul finds his freedom in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He is full of the Holy Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. Technically, Paul is not under any obligations or moral codes. As a former Jew, he is familiar with the law and customs, but as a free child of God through Jesus, he is no longer bound to the law. Paul is held captive to nothing on this earth, yet he is a slave to Christ.
Martin Luther further outlined the implications of this paradoxical slavery: “A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject of all, subject to all” (On the Freedom of a Christian, 1520). Paul’s understanding correlates directly to Luther’s, as he subjects himself to human standards in order to win others for the sake of the Gospel. Note that this is not out of obligation or necessity, but out of compassion and understanding for the soul that only Jesus can save.
Therefore, it is evident that Paul is not inconsistent in his personality, but that he is consistent with the nature of Christ. He knows that his identity, faith, and relationship with the Father do not depend on his ability to conform. Instead, he conforms out of humility, in order to win some for Christ. Is your level of confidence in Christ high enough to trust him with your interactions? Paul conforms out of an attitude of humility and service, not insecurity. Reflection:
Are you willing to humble yourself for the sake of the lost?