The Greatest Among You Will Be A Slave
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.
Serving as a Slave
Paul willingly submitted himself to others to help win them to Christ. Jesus Himself said that we should serve in a like manner:
26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave
It is only when we are able to serve in a selfless capacity that we are able to truly be effective for Christ. Freedom gives us the opportunity to serve in this way, for sin causes us to pursue self-centeredness and prevents us from being fully useful to God. Jesus was completely yielded to the Holy Spirit, and was able to put aside everything that would have impeded Him in His ability to live a life without sin.
Living the life of a servant can be lonely, difficult, unthankful, and unacknowledged by men. We need only to look at the lives of the Apostles to see that their journeys were fraught with danger, difficulty, and at the time, little recognition from men. We greatly value their contributions today, but while they lived their lives, they were seen as weak, inferior, and dangers to society. Servanthood is a characteristic of God and should be greatly desired and emulated by those who walk with His Son. The true test of a servant is how they react when they are treated like one…
Identify with Individuals
When people identify with you, they are more likely to listen and accept what you have to say. And while salesmen and advertisers do their very best to get you to identify with them, their spokespeople, their products, or public figures with whom they tie their brands, it is for their own personal gain rather than true relationship. Identity is still one of the strongest forms of persuasion that exist. When people see that we are like them, they allow you to interact with them on a more personal level.
Paul did his very best to identify with those whom he interacted:
- He became like a Jew to minister to the Jews
- To those under the law, he behaved like them (though he was not under the law)
- To those not under the law, he became like them (although he was under Christ’s law)
- To the weak he became weak
In every aspect, Paul endeavored to be like the people that he was trying to reach. And while this can be used for nefarious purposes (confidence men, rip-off artists, etc.), Paul was using the technique to seek greater access to those whom he was trying to reach. We can do the same with those that we encounter.
In all of this, Paul used his freedom to sow the seeds of the Gospel. Although he had free will, he chose to use his freedom for the work of Christ. In the Western world, we are taught to seek our own benefit first. Both Paul and Jesus sought the benefit of others first, and lived their lives in such a way that it was attractive to those who they were trying to reach. And while not everyone will respond, it is the duty of disciples of Christ to bring the good news of Jesus to every nation and people. Use your freedom wisely, and allocate the time that God gives you for His plans and purposes. When we do that, we are truly fulfilled and are then able to find the calling that God has intended for us since before the foundation of the Earth.
A Qualifying Question
Let’s ask a question: Am I using the freedom that God has given to me to glorify His name in the manner that He has appointed to me to fulfill?
A short prayer of preparation:
Father in Heaven, You have been gracious in providing freedom from sin through the blood of Your Son, Jesus Christ, shed upon the cross for my sins. Help me to use the freedom that You have given me to fully dedicate myself to the plans and purposes which You have determined long ago. Help me to fulfill Your desires and to do that which I am intended to do. Keep me close, and remind me to always follow Your lead. This I ask and pray in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?