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  • Writer's picturePastor Curtis A. May

Know your audience

Article for February 4, 2024

1 Corinthians 9:19–20 19For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20To 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.

How does one become a Jew or someone under the law when we are to be creatures of the Gospel?  We do not become anything else than what we are.  What we should do is to understand the Jew as a Jew would understand them.  Understand the one under that law as one under the law would understand those who believe as they do.

If we are to help anyone understand the gospel of Christ we must understand them through their understanding and culture.  First we must clear our mind of what we believe.  Not that we should stop believing what we believe.  We must approach understanding another’s world without letting our world get in the way.  We must keep an open mind to understand how deep another’s beliefs are and how grounded one is in their beliefs. 

In other words do not approach getting to know someone else with your guard up.  We must never be ready to attack the person we are trying to understand when we hear something contrary to our own beliefs.  The best way to know and understand is to listen intentionally.  By listening the person you are listening to might give you segue to tell them how the gospel works in their lives and how Jesus is their savior too.  

1 Corinthians 9:21 21To 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.

There are many cultures within a culture and this is true throughout the world.  Depending on your community, situation, friends, and needs, your personal culture is shaped.  We all process information differently, this is based on how that information affects us.  Each person is mostly controlled by their feelings, a need for companionship, and a need to be known.

We must help one feel unafraid, comfortable, and that we are genuinely interested in their life.  These are traits that are not something we should try to fake, but traits that should relay trust to the one we are trying to understand.  We can show that we trust them and that they can trust us.

So do not be judgmental when you are dealing with anyone, and do not tell the one you are trying to understand that you are here to help them.  They do not think they need help.  It takes time to truly understand another person and to find segues that will help them know the gospel.

1 Corinthians 9:22–23 22To 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. 23I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

Paul understood how to approach people and how to use their understanding to help them understand the message He was trying to convey to them.  Paul also took a lesson from Jesus as Jesus took three years to convey the message of the gospel to His apostles and disciples.

Jesus learned the way and means of the people Israel.  Jesus grew up in their culture but also traveled around to know even more of the culture He was a part of.  As people approached Jesus, like the woman who touched His robe, the Centurion who asked for His servant to be healed, and the woman who was to be stoned.  Jesus learned of them and about them to administer the means of grace and healing to them.

1 Corinthians 9:24–25 24Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we, an imperishable.

So as Paul writes to the people of Corinth, he encourages them to run the race of life.  This race of life is that which is laid out by God.  This is not a race for salvation but a race to glorify our God by living His word.  To live God’s word is not about the law though the law has its part; it is living the great command.  Love God and love one another.

1 Corinthians 9:26–27 26So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I, myself should be disqualified.

We obey God not because of the law but because of the love our God gives us.  Let this sink in, Jesus the Christ suffered and died a gruesome death for our most grievous sins.  All sin is against God and all sin deserves eternal death, and all sin is grievous.  

Jesus suffered and died for what we might think of as a minor sin as well as dying for those sins we think are serious sins.  This was not a prick or a slap on His hand, but unclean nails in His hands and feet.  Jesus died taking our punishment upon Himself.

But before you get too caught up in your grief, Jesus also was resurrected for us sinners so that we may live unpunished for our sins.  We have a God who loves us, and He loves us to life.  Amen.

Written by Pastor Curtis A. May


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