Saturday, November 11

Serve to save

Scripture: Psalm 122, 1 Corinthians 9-11

1 Corinthians 9:19 I am a free man, nobody’s slave; but I make myself everybody’s slave in order to win as many people as possible.


This jumped out at me because I’m finishing the weekend message on being the servant of all.  Here, Paul adds a twist.

He is a free man, but he makes himself the slave of all to win as many as possible.  That last phrase is the twist: the reason Paul willingly serves is to win people to Jesus.  Servanthood is missional.  We serve to save.

The rest of the passage gives examples.  With Jews, Paul is a Jew to win Jews.  With Gentiles, Paul is a Gentile to win Gentiles.  With the weak, Paul is 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.” (1 Co 9:22-23).  He is a slave to all to win as many as possible.

I know some people object to this, believing it is bait and switch or disingenuous.  They would say that we should serve simply to benefit others, for their sake with no agenda of our own.  I agree with that sentiment.  But I can’t escape Paul’s motivation here: the ultimate benefit we bring is salvation, to help people back to God.  He serves “for the sake of the gospel.”  Or said another way, he serves for the sake of the lost hearing the gospel and coming to Jesus.  And this is God’s agenda, not ours.

This squares with Jesus’ teaching in Mark 10:45.  “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  The ultimate act of service was giving His life to save us.  That was the motivation behind His service, and should be the motivation behind ours as well.

We are saved to serve.  And we serve to save.

Prayer: Lord, help me, like Paul and Jesus, be the servant of all with this clear motivation: I want them to be saved, to know You and follow You.  Let my service point others to You.