We all know what it means to make deliberate choices for the benefit of someone or something that we view to be of far greater value than that which is being sacrificed.
Whether it means realigning our priorities, doing without certain personal comforts, or even risking our very lives, there’s no telling how far the human spirit is willing to go for the sake of someone or something that is held in high regard.
That’s the way Paul felt about the Gospel.
For the sake of the Gospel, he was willing to endure hardship, imprisonment, even death in order to complete his God-given task of advancing the Good News of Jesus and His Kingdom.
For the sake of the Gospel, he became a servant to a wide range of people: the religious and non-religious; the moral and immoral; the defeated and demoralized; whoever. He didn’t take on their way of life or change his core message, but he was intent on adapting to people and connecting with them where they were at in life, taking Christ into the context that was most familiar to them.
For the sake of the Gospel, Paul vigorously defended the “purity” of the Gospel by publicly rebuking Peter for not acting in line with the truth of the Gospel, leading others astray, and even hypocrisy. Though Peter’s actions seemed innocent enough on the surface, Paul saw it as a threat to the Gospel; an unwitting attempt by Peter to impose Jewish ritual on Gentile believers and alter the very heart of “Paul’s Gospel” in the process.
For the sake of the Gospel, Paul also chose, on at least two important occasions, to willingly comply with Jewish ritual: First, by circumcising Timothy near the start of his second missionary journey; then, by freely participating in a Jewish purification rite himself at the end of his third missionary journey. In both cases, his intent was to honor the Jewish community and express his solidarity with Jewish believers by becoming a “Jew to the Jews” so that the Good News of Jesus and His Kingdom would continue to move within the Jewish context.
Paul was willing to put up with anything rather than hinder the Gospel of Christ. He saw himself as Christ’s ambassador; as someone entrusted with both a message and a task; as someone compelled to faithfully discharge the trust committed to him.