May 08, 2023

Who Am I With?

Devotion for the Week...

This week I've been thinking about how we act and talk differently when we're with different people. It's not that we're pretending to be someone else, just that we talk about different things or maybe tell different stories, depending on who we're with. For an extreme example, when I go for a walk with the littles, we talk about the colours of the cars we see, or get excited about the planes in the sky and the birds we hear. When I'm walking with my friend Dawn, we talk about trying to get kids to put down their devices, or the trials of our week at work. Dawn would think me a little strange if I started exclaiming about the red car coming toward us, or if I said, "I hear a noisy crow!"

The apostle Paul understood this well. In 1 Corinthians, he wrote:

"When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law. When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ.

"When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings" (1 Corinthians 9:20-23).

Paul knew the Jews wouldn't listen to him if he disrespected their way of life, nor would the Gentiles listen if he followed rules they thought strange. He didn't adopt sinful practices no matter who he was with, but he did adapt to the people he was with as much as possible so he could make them comfortable and receptive to what he had to say.

I love that Paul said he tried to find common ground with everyone. It sounds like he was the kind of person my mother-in-law would say never met a stranger, meaning he could talk to anyone, even people he just met, as if he'd known them for years. People with different backgrounds and traditions didn't make him uncomfortable and he didn't make them feel uncomfortable, either. They were all people in need of a Savior and Paul wanted to build a relationship with them in hopes of teaching them about Jesus.
Do we try to find common ground with the people around us |
Can we say the same? We all spend time around a variety of people every week. Do we try to find common ground with them, whether they share our beliefs and our background or not? And do we try to build a genuine relationship with them, so that someday we may have occasion to tell them about Jesus?

1 comment:

  1. Oh my, you know how to get us thinking about our daily interactions with others! I can totally relate. I went line dancing this morning (twice a week for exercise) and during a break will chat with anyone in the class about upcoming trips, or books they've been reading. After class, I walked to the parking lot with a friend who's in Bible study with me. Know what we talked about? Jesus! I had to wonder what others, walking past us in the parking lot, thought about any snippets of conversation they overheard. We never know how God might be using us, even inadvertently, to make a positive effect on others.


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