Being a Servant To All Men

For eighteen fruitful years, Dr. H.A. Ironside was pastor of the Moody Church in Chicago. When he got ready to take the offering, he would often say, “We ask God’s people to give generously. If you are not a believer in Jesus Christ, we do not ask you to give. We have a gift … More

Adaptability

The sole reward that Paul desired was to be able to preach “the gospel of Christ without charge.” Someone might ask the question, with all the freedom in the world open to him, why did the apostle Paul restrict himself so severely? The answer is “that I might gain the more.” (v. 19)  He summarizes his guiding principle of being adaptable in these words, “I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (v. 22). In order to better accomplish his purpose, he was willing to adapt himself to the people with whom he was dealing. To the Jew he became as a Jew; to the Gentiles, as one of them. Acts 13 and 14 provide excellent illustrations of this principle.

Of course the apostle does not at all mean that he compromised the essentials of the Word of God, nor does he mean that he stooped to any evil deed. He was a Jew who had a great burden for his own people (Rom. 9:1-3), but also a special calling to minister to Gentiles (Eph 3:8). What Paul does mean is that whether dealing with men under the law (Jews) or without law (Gentiles) he adapted himself to their condition. He had the right to eat whatever pleased him, but he gave up that right so that he might win the Jews. At the same time he respected the law to reach the Gentiles (vv. 20-21).

Paul gives several important principles for ministry (vv. 22-23):

  1. Find common ground with those you contact
  2. Avoid a know it all attitude
  3. Make others feel accepted
  4. Be sensitive to the needs and concerns of others
  5. Look for opportunities to tell them about Christ

Application

I must never compromise the gospel but I want to be a person who is willing to change the way I do things in order to reach more people for Him.

I Corinthians 9:19-23 (English Standard Version)

For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 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. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

View this passage in NIV (Bible Gateway) »