Tuesday: Walking in Their Shoes

Here’s an important point: rather than providing what we think people need, we must learn what they see as important priorities. What are they concerned about? What are their problems? What do they feel that they need?1

Read 1 Corinthians 9:20–22. What do these verses tell us about Paul’s approach to different peoples and his desire to identify with their needs and concerns? What can we take from this for ourselves in our attempts to reach out to those around us? See also Heb. 4:15.

Without compromising on matters of principle, the apostle Paul was willing to go anywhere and do anything he could to be in a better position to convince people of the truth of the gospel. In other words, he was willing to walk in their shoes in an attempt to understand them and to determine the best way to reach them for Jesus Christ.

The point is that often we try to provide what we think people need. Yet we should seek first to understand what they see as their needs. To walk in the shoes of another means that we attempt to understand life and all its intricacies and issues from their perspective; it is to try to understand their hurts and joys. In other words, to meet them where they are.

Of course, this is what Jesus did. His earthly life was one of identifying with those He came to save. He can understand our struggles and pain because He experienced the same. He had great disappointments, endured false accusations, rejection, and unfair punishment. He was “God with us” in the fullest sense of entering into our lives.

Furthermore, because He entered into our experiences, He can meet people where they are. As we read through the Gospels we discover that Jesus did not have just one method of evangelism and witnessing. He reached out to people in their own life context. When He met the woman at Jacob’s well, He spoke about living water. To farming folk, He told stories about sowing seeds, harvest time, and the weather. To fishermen, He spoke about fish, nets, and storms. Jesus had a wonderful way of presenting great spiritual truths as He identified with the normal issues of daily life, and those who listened learned about the water of life and the need to sow the gospel seed. Many of them even became fishers of men.



Tuesday: Walking in Their Shoes — 9 Comments

  1. Without compromising on matters of principle, the apostle Paul was willing to go anywhere and do anything he could to be in a better position to convince people of the truth of the gospel. Does it mean we do anything to look like them to attract them to Jesus Christ?
    Shall we not endup doing wrong things in the name of Bringing people to Christ?

    • I believe the point that Paul was making in 1 Cor 9:20 -22, is that we should get to know the person, and try to find a common ground, and minister to them through their need. God allows us to go through a variety of situations so that we can increase our faith and depend on him. For example losing a job, loss of a loved one, divorce, financial issues, health issues, relationship issues. God may permit you to meet someone who is currently in a crisis that you may have just gone through, and provide you with the opportunity to strenghten them and direct them to God, as God has strengthen and comforted you when you were going through your valley experience.

      • A great point Victoria you make about first trying to understand the other person through their needs, living their reality to be able to empathize and better appreciate how to provide support. This also builds important credibility where God can use us powerfully for His work by walking in His walk, following His footsteps to help others to come to know the Good News of the Gospel!

        • I live in a predominately Muslim country. Do I need to become a Muslim to minister to them? The people here also practice animism. Do I need to start doing that? Interestingly enough, the people here are satisfied that their needs are met. They only think about two things: food and death. They work their whole lives to have a big funeral. I find it hard to imagine working my whole life toward my death. How does one evangelize and witness to these people? What did Jesus do?

        • Randy, you don't need to become a Muslim in order to minister to them. Christ didn't become a sinner in order to minister to sinners, but He did experience temptation, and in the end, He experienced the death of a sinner.

          I believe that in order to minister to Muslims, you have to understand why they work all their lives for a big funeral. What do they hope to gain? When you can think like a Muslim, you will know how to minister to them. The Holy Spirit is the best Teacher, and He will teach you what you need to know, if you ask.

  2. We are a lot more alike than different; we all experience sadness, loneliness, grief, joy, anger, doubt and fears. Our human-ness enables us to relate to everyone.

  3. I have learnt the importance of understanding a person as an indivindual rather than generalising their needs with everyone else. Once we understand them then we can draw them to Christ using the knowledge that we have found out...

    • Violet, Maybe we can think of it a bit differently?

      We need to make friends of people before we can share with them. And when our friends see the love of Jesus in us, they will want to know Him too 🙂

  4. RandyJ,
    In reference to Muslims, there are many common grounds and lessons to learn. They are devoted to their prayer life, they are not ashamed of their religion and have endured being in a country that is not favorable toward their religion/lifestyle. You have a lot to open a door. Mostly our Attitude towards those who don’t believe in our God is the silent sermon that they see mostly. Whether they are Muslims, Hindu, etc. The World is changing let us have a Christ like attitude find the common ground, and then try to be a friend. It is the Holy Spirit that does the work; let us not be judgmental because of our differences.


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