1 Corinthians 9:19-27
For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 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.
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. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
The message this morning at Redeemer Fellowship was about understanding how Christians “win.” Paul has been responding to the Church at Corinth about how to live their lives and answering their questions about what they are allowed to do. Here, he takes a step back to tell them why; what his rationale is for doing what he has been doing.
For Paul, it’s all about winning. His definition of winning is for people to be saved to God. All of his passion and purpose for live springs from his desire to save some people. He even uses the word “win” 5 times in the first 3 verses of this passage. Paul wants people to be saved from the tremendous wrath of God. He wants to celebrate and share in their blessings.
Paul cautions that you should not cross the line of sin in trying to become like people to show them God’s promises. He relates to everyone and does whatever it takes to remove excuses an barriers to understanding his point of view. However, he stays within the bounds of God’s Law.
The second part of the passage discusses a race. Paul is using this to show the danger of helping reconcile other people is that you may miss your own personal reconciliation with God – you may be disqualified from the race. Our pastor compared this to a scene in the movie Hitch where Kevin James’ character comments that Hitch is good at selling love but he doesn’t believe in his own product. It’s the same idea.
Further Readings – Romans 5:6-9, John 3:36, and Acts 4:12
If you want to listen to the whole sermon, you can find it at redeemerkansascity.org