Learning from Paul’s Mindset

Paul, who felt so unworthy to receive the Lord’s mercy and to serve as His apostle, had a remarkable outlook toward evangelism. One passage in which we see his mindset set forth is 1 Corinthians 9:16-23.

We see Paul’s mindset toward the gospel. He called it “the gospel of Christ” (9:18) — it is the good news about Jesus and from Jesus. Paul made every effort not to hinder the gospel (9:12). One way he did that was to put the emphasis on the message and not the messenger.

Paul understood that the gospel must be preached, saying, “. . . woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!” (9:16). He knew that he had what people needed and was prepared to teach it. He openly confessed that his labors were “for the gospel’s sake” (9:23), which is the same as working for the Lord.

We also see Paul’s mindset toward lost people. In order to reach the lost, he became a servant to all (9:19). His goal was the salvation of souls. Hear what he declared:“ …that I might win the more… win Jews… win those who are without law…win the weak . . . that I might by all means save some” (9:19-22). Paul, why in the world are you traveling all over the place to talk to people you do not even know?! Paul, you have been beaten and put in prison, so why do you keep on preaching the gospel?! The answer is obvious, is it not? He really cared about souls.

Paul showed no partiality, reaching out both to Jews and Gentiles (9:20,21). He was willing to “become all things to all men” in order to help them be saved (9:22). In modern language, Paul did all that he could to make himself “more marketable.” You and I need to develop such a mentality.

Third, we can see Paul’s mindset toward himself. Paul’s thinking was, “It is not about me; it is about the Lord and His gospel.” He carried in his heart a sense of duty (9:16), seeing himself as a debtor both to God and humans. Are we not all debtors like Paul was?

We admire the fact that Paul did not think he was too good to be a servant. As we noted, he was willing to be a servant to all (9:19). He also did not think he was too good to be flexible and adapt. In different cultures, reaching out to different types of people, he used varying approaches (9:20-22). That just makes sense, does it not? If one reads further down in the chapter, he will see that Paul also recognized his need to practice self-discipline as he taught others (9:27).

You and I are surrounded by lost people. Paul’s mindset toward the gospel, the lost, and himself serves as a worthy example for all of us to emulate.

— Roger D. Campbell