I Corinthians 9:18-23
verses 19-22: Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 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. 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. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.
When I first read this it makes me uncomfortable because of the wording. It sounds like Paul is being deceptive, pretending to be something he is not, in order to convince others to believe him. But when I read it over, and put it in the context of Paul’s teaching, I look at it differently. I think Paul is telling us we need to understand where others are coming from before we can effectively share what we know. If we approach others as if from some other world, they will not trust us. I can not communicate in a meaningful way with another person unless I understand some things about them. I need to “walk in their shoes” for a little while. This is not being deceptive, it is being understanding and loving.
Father God, you have made a world full of all kinds of people, with all kinds of precious histories and habits. Help me to understand where others have been. This understanding will help me to tell them about all you have done for me. Thank-you, Lord. Amen
pic by Kay