Winning Others Over With Empathy
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. – 1 Corinthians 9:20-23
Paul is so convicted in the gospel that he puts himself in other's shoes to win them over to Christ. And honestly, we should do the same.
For if I speak as an outsider to a stranger, why would they pay me any attention? Why would they listen to me?
People have their own agenda. They have their own backgrounds. By meeting them where they are, there's a higher chance they will listen to what you have to say.
We should not just aimlessly share the gospel without taking the time to understand the people we are sharing with. Otherwise, I don't think we are any better than them.
Discipline Like An Athlete
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. – 1 Corinthians 9:24
In an athletic competition, there can only be one first place winner. I'm not sure why Paul mentioned that there can only be one winner, but his analogy to the race is good.
Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. – 1 Corinthians 9:25
Athletes exercise self-control to keep their body in top shape. They focus on their physical fitness so they can perform at their best.
We as faithful believers in Christ should also focus on our spiritual fitness so when we work the field (the harvest is plenty but the workers are few), we are at our best potential to reap from the harvest.
So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. – 1 Corinthians 9:26
Athletes don't do things without reason–they focus on their goal: winning the competition.
Similarly, Christians don't do things without reason–we focus on winning others over to Christ.
But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. – 1 Corinthians 9:27
Athletes are not hypocrites–they don't make mistakes that disqualify them from the competition. For example, it is not okay for athletes to use steroids. That's considered cheating.
Similarly, Christians should not be hypocrites either. We should be careful to do as we preach. Don't give others the opportunity to think that we preach "do as I say, not as I do".
Every weekend I write about some thoughts, life lessons, and interesting things I came by for the week. I'd love for you to join.