This month I’ve spent some time reflecting on the past year and some of the things I was able to learn in 2020. I was looking reviewing a bible study I did on the that included scripture from 1 Corinthians and I want to share that with you today. This text comes from the story Paul shares with us in the book of 1 Corinthians verses 9-27.
Paul was writing a letter to the people in the city of Corinth. At that time, Corinth was a commercial center located in ancient Greece. The purpose for Paul to write this letter to the Corinthians was that he had received information from a few sources that they needed guidance both on matters in the church as well as general guidance to live more holy lives. Paul wrote to the church in Corinth to clarify instructions, provide insight on other matters, and to share wise teaching. These teachings are applicable to us today as we also encounter issues with the church, and issues with ourselves. We can be immature, hostile, jealous, immoral, and unkind. And Paul provides instruction on how to live life in freedom and discipline in the text below.
1 Corinthians 9:9-27 – NIV Version
“19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”
I realize you probably skimmed that. I don’t blame you, I often do that too. But I would urge you to just read each sentence and focus on the wisdom in it. If you want some hints, what I took away from Paul’s teaching is summarized in seven points below.
- We are free in Christ
- We must adapt to where others are in order to best serve
- Know your why
- Run with these things in mind. –> Affirm who you are in God’s eyes, adapt to build connections with others, be clear on why you do it, be realistic.
- Remind yourself that winning is not a personal win but a win for God and the kingdom
- Run with purpose with your eyes fixed on God
- If you remain disciplined to get your needs right, you can only then focus on the needs of others
In summary, Paul is spreading the gospel among nations. That is an enormous job. In order to do the job well, he humbled himself. He mirrored and adapted in order to become a better leader. He met people where they are instead of where he wished them to be. His purpose is to share Jesus with them and save some. He was realistic. He was there not to save all but some. He had purpose. He knew the race he was in. He ran with that purpose. He was disciplined in order to share his message, so he had energy to lead and share with others. He shows us to fill from a full cup. He was clear on his purpose and he knew the prize.
So I want you to ask yourself a few questions. Do you know you’re free in Christ? Do you adapt to others in order to best serve them? Do you know your why and do you run with that purpose in mind?
If you’re not there yet, or just need a reminder, spend some time in the book of 1 Corinthians. Sit there for a while and learn from Paul and his wisdom. I pray that you find discipline, freedom, and purpose in his words. And that you run in a way so that you are not disqualified from the prize.