To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it (1 Corinthians 9:22-23 NASB).
When any word in communication is emphasized repeatedly, it is there to alert us to its importance. When God repeats words or phrases in the Bible, it is done for vital emphasis.
In the passage above, Paul uses the word all four times in two sentences. He is describing his whole life in a paragraph—why he lives and why we should live—and modeling for us how to live with incredible gospel effectiveness.
I have become all things …
Paul is willing to adapt his life in any way necessary to reach people who do not know Jesus Christ. He does not care where or how he lives. He is content in a prison cell if he can proclaim the good news about Christ there. Physical constraints are immaterial to him, because he is driven by a greater passion.
I have become all things to all men …
There was no one who was not on Paul’s radar. No person was just an object to him, lifeless and unimportant.
He didn’t see people as workers, service people, employers. He did not differentiate between race or position or belief.
He saw everyone through one lens: precious people created by God, separated from Him because of sin, and in desperate need of a remedy for this condition.
Paul himself had been in this same position, and someone had shared the gospel with him. It had utterly transformed his life, and thus the trajectory of his purpose. Paul now lived to share with every man what had been shared with him.
I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.
Paul was willing to utilize any legitimate means to see people come to Christ. Obviously, he did not use means that violated biblical truth or manipulated people; he knew that only God can save anyone. But his creativity for the gospel was unending.
Whether chained to guards in prison, in court before the highest leaders of the land, by a lake, while traveling, or while standing on Mars Hill in Athens among philosophers, Paul saw every moment as his opportunity to share the one message that could take men from hell to heaven and from death to life.
To simple men he spoke simply. To scholars he spoke as the scholar that he was. Every conversation had a purpose. He lived with laser focus. Nothing else mattered to him but helping others hear the eternity-changing truth.
All Things for the Sake of the Gospel
I do all things for the sake of the gospel.
Paul did nothing for himself, his reputation, or his monetary gain. His consuming goal was not his comfort or likability.
The evaluative question at the end of the day was this: Did I faithfully share the gospel with those God placed in my path today?
This is why Paul could say with humble conviction at the close of his life, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
Father, thank You for saving me from a life and eternity without You. Remind me daily of the depth of this grace and the height of Your mercy toward me. Thank You for those who shared the truth of the gospel with me that led to my salvation. Compel me now to pass to others what has been entrusted to me.
Deliver me from fruitless self-centeredness. Lift my gaze outward. Help me see people not as objects, but as those You love with complete and absolute compassion; as those that only one message and one Savior can heal.
Fill me with hourly urgency, and grant me the clarity and boldness to speak the Word of God without fear. Let me do all things—ALL things—for the sake of the gospel. Open my mouth in gospel witness and my heart in gospel love.