“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.”
(1 Corinthians 9:22–23)
Oh, what a great picture and particularly when you compare it to what we saw in 1 Corinthians Chapter 8 when we prayed through there. So the whole picture in the previous chapter, 1 Corinthians Chapter 8, was the laying aside your rights for the good of other brothers and sisters in Christ. But now in 1 Corinthians Chapter 9, Paul takes that to a whole nother level because he starts talking about laying aside his rights for the spread of the gospel to those who don’t believe in Christ, for those who are lost, who are apart from God, who have not believed in Christ, and Paul says, “I lay down my rights for them. To the weak, I become weak then I might win the weak. I become all things to all people that by all means I might save some.”
The Apostle Paul was willing to lay down his own life for the sake of the lost hearing the gospel and trusting in Jesus for salvation.
In other words, he is laying down his life for people who are apart from God around him, saying, “How can I lead them to Christ? What can I do? I don’t want to hold on to my rights,” and he even talks about like his right to earn money in this way or that way for proclaiming the gospel. He says, “I’ll put that aside if that’s going to compromise in any way the gospel. I want to lay down my rights to lead people to Jesus. I do it all,” Paul says, “for the sake of the gospel that I may share with them in its blessings.” What a powerful picture, what a powerful perspective. When Paul looks at non-Christians around him, those who are lost in sin, Paul says, “I so want them to share in the blessings of the gospel that I know that I will lay down whatever it takes.”
Obviously, he won’t lay aside the truth of the gospel. He won’t lay aside his faith. I mean all the things that are essential, of course he won’t lay those things down, but he’ll lay down his preferences. He’ll lay down his rights to this or that. He’ll lay down all kinds of things this world offers in order that they might hear and believe and know and share in the joy of the gospel. Is that your perspective on those who are lost around you today? Think about what you might lay down in order to lead the people in your sphere of influence right now, thinking about the people you work with, people you live around or live with, people in the neighborhood around you, people you interact with in your sphere of influence who don’t know Jesus. What is God calling you to lay down in order to lead them to Jesus, to put aside?
Maybe it’s put aside fear of sharing the gospel with them. Maybe it’s put aside your reputation. You’re concerned about what they might think about you. Lay aside your comfort, feels uncomfortable to share the gospel with them. Or are there other things in your life that if you changed, they would see the gospel more clearly in you? So are you willing to make that change for their sake that they might share in the blessings of the gospel? Really think through. Maybe even after we pray, just spend some time thinking, “What do I need to lay down? What would I put aside in order to more faithfully share the gospel with the people right around me that they might come to know and share in the blessings of the gospel?”
And then don’t just think right around you. Think far from you. When we talk about and pray for unreached people groups in the world, there’s a reason they’re unreached. They’re hard to reach. They’re difficult to reach. So you’re going to reach the 625,000 Shirazi people in Tanzania and that’s not going to be easy. There’s somebody who’s got to lay down their rights, their comforts, their preferences in this world in order to get the gospel to the Shirazi in Tanzania. So who’s going to do it? This is where Paul in 1 Corinthians 9 is saying, “This must be the posture of the Christian. We are willing to lay down our lives that the Shirazi in Tanzania might share in the blessings of the gospel.” And until we do this, until we’re willing to die to our rights, ourselves, and our preferences and our comforts in this world, then we will not faithfully obey Jesus’s command to make the gospel known among all the nations.
So God, we pray that you would help us, that you would give us the heart of your spirit in Paul, not Paul’s heart, your heart in Paul, your heart that’s reflected here in 1 Corinthians Chapter 9, your heart that’s evident, Lord Jesus, in what you did laying down your life that we might be saved. We were lost. You laid down your life for us. All glory be to your name for laying aside your right to life, for laying aside your comforts, laying aside so much kneeling in the garden of Gethsemane, saying not my will but your will be done, and going to the cross for my sake, for our sake. All glory be to your name for laying down your life that we might be found, that we might be saved, that we might have eternal life.
So God, please help us to do the same. Help us to do the same for people around us today. God, give us this posture, we pray. Give us this perspective. Help us to lay aside comfort, lay aside our reputation, lay aside fears. Change whatever needs to change in our lives in order that people around us might come to know Jesus. Please, oh God. Show us what that means, what needs to happen in our lives, what needs to change in order for us to more faithfully lead people to share in the blessings of the gospel. God, please cause it to be so. Help us to do this for the sake of the gospel and for the sake of those who don’t know eternal life in you.
We pray for this for those right around us, and then God, for people far from us. God, we pray that you would raise up laborers who will go to the Shirazi in Tanzania, who will leave behind rights as Americans even and move from this country, country where I live, to take the gospel to the Shirazi in Tanzania and to thousands of other people groups like them, and not just from America, from around the world, God, from all kinds of different places. Raise up followers of Jesus who will lay down their rights for the sake of the gospel, for the spread of the gospel to people groups, places where the gospel’s not yet gone. God, please give us this posture. We pray for 1 Corinthians 9 selfless, sacrificial posture that others might share in the gospel because of our lives. In Jesus’s name, we pray. Amen.
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