Here, Paul outlines his strategy for evangelism. He learns to “speak the language” of those with whom he is sharing the good news of Jesus. He meets people where they are, rather than insisting they come to Christ on his terms. He realizes that developing relationship is key in sharing his story. Nobody is going to listen to him if he does not first get to know them, listen to their story, try to see the world through their eyes, and to seek to understand them.
For Paul, that meant a willingness to let go of his privilege and his status, something that was unheard of in his honor-driven culture. He had to exhibit a generosity of spirit while still holding to the law of Christ – loving God, neighbor, and self. If we pay attention to the story of Paul’s life, we know that sometimes his message didn’t land easily with people. There were times he was beaten, run out of town, and imprisoned. He eventually was killed, but despite it all, he never wavered from his insistence that everybody mattered to God.
In what way does your approach to people who may see matters of faith differently from yours compare to Paul’s? How willing are you to listen to someone else’s story before you share yours? How practiced are you at trying to see the world through the eyes of someone who has a different perspective or life experience than you?
Today, try to learn something new about someone you don’t know very well. It might be your hairstylist, the clerk at the post office, a neighbor, or the person pouring your coffee. Express genuine interest in this person’s story and lift them to God in prayer.