Even though I [Paul] am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ. When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law. When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ. When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. (1 Corinthians 9:19-22, NLT)
For although I am free in every way from anyone’s control, I have made myself a bond servant to everyone, so that I might gain the more [for Christ]. (1 Corinthians 9:19, Amp)
…I have [in short] become all things to all men, that I might by all means (at all costs and in any and every way) save some [by winning them to faith in Jesus Christ]. (1 Corinthians 9:22, Amp)
As I read this passage a few days I ago, it stirred something in my heart. I recalled a time when I ministered to a group of ladies. I was surprised when I left my notes and began talking about ‘mean’ Christians. Something that ought never be.
As I began to minister to the ladies after the teaching, a woman came up crying and confessed she was one of those ‘mean’ Christians. All the other women in the class knew her and began to weep with her as they witnessed her transformation from a ‘mean’ Christian to a loving one.
I have met a lot of ‘mean’ Christians in my life. I myself have had my moments and I thank God that by His grace in my life, they are few and far between.
The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 3:6, that the letter of the law kills, but the spirit gives life. I have seen these ‘mean’ Christians take the Word of God and demand that others behave a certain way, make certain changes, or else. They demand that others be like them and believe like them or they will have nothing to do with them.
Yet in the passage above from 1 Corinthians 9, Paul tells us that he became all things to all men in order to save them. He found common ground and did not separate himself from them.
The letter kills, but the spirit gives life. The letter demands. The spirit loves.
And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many, and they followed him. (Mark 2:15, KJV)
And they followed Him. Not because he judged, rejected, and condemned them (see John 3:17, Amp). But because He loved them. He didn’t go around rebuking them. He did go around rebuking the Pharisees for judging, rejecting and condemning men based on the law.
He didn’t come to judge, reject, condemn or pass sentence. He came to love. And that’s what we as Christians are called to do too.
Hmmmm…When I think about “mean” Christians, of which I, too, have participated, I remember Matt. 7:6, the Scripture given me when I was to introduce the Holy Spirit to a “traditional” believer. That Scripture is actually talking about the Jewish leadership who also became mean in protection of their laws. Satan just has to twist slightly to have people go from love to hate, from relationship to religion. Thank you, Jesus, for relationship!