Saturday, March 24
In order to win more people
Scripture: Joshua 18-20, 1 Corinthians 9
1 Corinthians 9:19 Although I am free from all and not anyone’s slave, I have made myself a slave to everyone , in order to win more people.
1 Corinthians 9:22 To the weak I became weak, in order to win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some.
Paul describes his willingness to adapt himself to his audience in order to win them for Christ “by every possible means.” Jews, Gentiles, the weak, free or slave, everyone—he becomes like them in order to win them.
The goal is to win them for Christ: he does all this “in order to win more people.” Paul’s preferences were secondary to his mission of winning more people to Jesus.
Five times in verses 19-22 Paul uses the word “win”. The Greek word is kerdaino, and it means to gain something by effort or investment, and then of winning over people. So it is not “win” in the sense of sport or combat, to vanguish the opposition and win a victory. It is win in the sense of “win over” by persuading someone to follow you or adopt your belief. Paul wanted to win—not win a battle to get what he wanted, but to win more people to Jesus.
This week a few of us had a lively discussion about using various styles of music to win different people. One suggestion was that we need to be true to ourselves. Of course. But in this passage, Paul has a higher value than preserving his identity or preferences—it is winning the lost. The mission trumps our personal preferences. Paul said that he was willing to adapt to his audience “in order to win more people.” To follow Paul’s example is to be willing to adapt our preferences to the audience we are trying to reach, and to use “every possible means” “to win more people.”
A few weeks ago, I had a similar conversation with a minority pastor who resented having to adapt his style to the majority. The issue remains the same: what is more important? Preserving your preferences and identity or reaching more people? Paul knew the answer to that.
Prayer: Lord, help me be willing to adapt to win more people. Don’t let me get stuck, become inflexible and unable to reach those who are different from me.