Before we look at anything else Paul writes in this section we need to establish why he did what he did and why we should follow his example. We find his reasoning at the end of verse 22: “that by all means I might save some.” What exactly was he trying to save them from? He may not state it explicitly in this verse but Romans 5:9, another of Paul’s letters, reads “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.” That is exactly what Paul and we are trying to rescue people from, the wrath of God.
Maybe it is because, as Americans, we have so much. Maybe it is just because we do not want to be reminded of God’s justice. Whatever the reason may be, we often avoid the fact that the Holy God, who created this earth, must pour out His wrath on those who do not put their faith in the saving work of Jesus. Many people emphasize the help that Jesus can give psychologically, the power to overcome hate, fear, loneliness, and so on. Those things are wonderful, and He does help us to overcome those issues, but the best and most important part of the gospel is that we do not have to experience God’s almighty wrath. Do you believe that?
It is entirely possible that we do not share the message of Jesus because we do not believe, deep down, that God’s wrath will reign down on those who reject His truth. Our lives have become so busy and so filled with an excess of doing that we take little time to remind ourselves that our lives are short, and people need the truth of Jesus. Take some time today and simply think on the wrath of God that will come. Allow it to impact your view of this world just as it did Paul’s.
Once you have allowed the truth and power of God’s wrath to sink into your heart and mind, then read the following verses.
1 Corinthians 9:19-23 – For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 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. 21 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. 22 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. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.
Now that we understand Paul’s reason, his heart, we can truly understand what it means to be all things to all men. We have freedom in Christ to put aside the petty differences that can alienate us from society and more specifically, from those who do not follow Jesus. We must also remember to examine ourselves regularly before God to make sure that we are not becoming too much like the world that they no longer realize that there is something different about us. This task is not an easy one, but I challenge you to see what God can do through you when you ask yourself this question often: “Am I doing everything I can to reach those around me while remaining true to the God who saved me from His wrath?” Can you say like Paul “that by all means I might save some”?