Straight A’s don’t matter ∙
I have become all things to all men, so that I may, by all means, save some. – 1 Corinthians 9:22
1 Corinthians 9:19-23
19 Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ.
20 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.
21 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.
22 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.
23 I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.
Dr. Adam Grant writes, “When I was in college, I obsessed over getting straight A’s. Now that I’m a professor, ‘I watch in dismay’ when I see students joining the same ‘cult of perfectionism.’ They think straight A’s will provide entrée to elite graduate schools and prestigious careers. The evidence, however, says otherwise. Research shows that while there’s a modest correlation between grades and job performance the first year out of college, after a few years, the difference is ‘trivial.’”
“Getting straight A’s requires conformity. Having an influential career demands originality.” While straight-A students are locked in their dorm rooms or library pursuing “meaningless perfection,” their peers are developing skills that aren’t captured by grades: “creativity, leadership, and teamwork skills and social, emotional, and political intelligence.” Career success doesn’t come from “finding the right solution to a problem – it’s more about finding the right problem to solve.”
In high school, Steve Jobs pulled a 2.65 GPA, J.K. Rowling had a C average at Exeter, and Martin Luther King Jr. managed only one A in four years at Morehouse College. Underachieving in school does not prevent us from overachieving in life.
1 Corinthians 9:22 I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some.
The apostle Paul was a great original thinker. He thought outside the box and brought revolutionary concepts to the world in which he lived. While standing firm upon the Biblical foundation of absolute truth without a smidgen of inconsistency, he became a human chameleon conforming to others as a willing servant of the Father. While never compromising the truth, he mastered the art of accommodating oneself to others. He could put himself in the place of others, understanding, empathizing, and being able to think their thoughts. He understood what made people tick and what shaped them into what they had become.
One of our most significant goals as children of the King is to learn the art of getting along with people. Paul, the supreme missionary, won more people for Christ in his day than anyone else. He knew how essential it was to become all things to all people. Sadly, we often fail to try (Barclay).
REFLECT & PRAY
Paul never compromised his convictions or his calling, but he was more than willing to find common ground and meet his audience wherever they happened to be. More than anything, he wanted to lead people to live in Christ (Stanley).
Father teach me how to stand firm on the truth and yet be flexible and adaptive to serve those You bring into my life.
For Paul, there was a priority not only to understand the culture and driving force of others but to identify with them and immerse himself deeply within, so he could see things from the inside. Paul learned to interact with firm yet gentle persuasion. He mastered the fine art of immersing himself in the culture without being tainted by it.
Paul had become like the Lord Jesus Christ, a servant to all.
25 You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them.
26 “It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant,
27 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave;
28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.
We live in a post-Christian culture where the ground has shifted dramatically. Paul has pointed the way.
Paul has pointed the way. We can no longer assume a Christian consensus. We must be agile and adaptive yet not compromise our faith. We are to be immersed but not compromised. It is not easy but hard to create and maintain an appropriate balance.
Romans 12:2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
What a difficult balance to remain resolute regarding absolute truth yet adaptive and able to identify with diverse cultures, religious points of view, and variations of all types. “What a paradox: free from all men, yet the servant of all men! ‘Ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake’ (2 Corinthians 4:5). Because he was free, Paul was able to serve others and to set aside his own rights for their sake” (Wiersbe).
1 Corinthians 9:19 Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ.
“Paul was a Jew who had a great burden for his own people (Romans 9:1-3; 10:1). But his special calling was to minister to the Gentiles (Ephesians 3:8). Whenever he went into a new city (and he always went where the Gospel had not yet been preached – Romans 15:20), he headed straight for the synagogue, if there was one, and boldly shared the Gospel. If he was rejected by the Jews, then he turned to the Gentiles. . .. In his personal life, Paul so lived that he did not offend either the Jews or the Gentiles. He did not parade his liberty before the Jews, nor did he impose the Law on the Gentiles” (Wiersbe).
Was Paul behaving inconsistently? Not at all! Instead, he demonstrated wisdom by adapting his approach to different groups. Paul did not rely on a standardized formula for all circumstances. This can be observed in his sermons as documented in the Book of Acts. For instance, when preaching to Jews, he would reference the Old Testament patriarchs. When addressing Gentiles, he would start with the God of Creation.
Recall that the Lord Jesus Christ used a similar approach as Paul. When addressing Nicodemus, a prominent Jewish leader, Jesus spoke about spiritual rebirth (John 3). In contrast, when speaking to the Samaritan woman, He talked about living water (John 4). Neither of them relied on a rigid “evangelistic formula” that could be applied in all circumstances. Jesus displayed flexibility and adaptability, which Paul emulated.
“It takes tact to have contact” (Wiersbe).
© Dr. H 2023