“Then I came to them of the captivity at Telabib, that dwelt by the river of Chebar, and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days” (Ezek. 3:15). After being charged to speak to the house of Israel in captivity, Ezekiel “sat where they sat” for seven days. We don’t know all the reasons why, however the principal is helpful. Before we speak it helps to gain perspective.
This is a principal that is brought over into the New Testament. Paul would say it this way, “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some” (1 Cor. 9:19-22). He begins this thought with an unpopular concept, “I have made myself a slave to all.” This is a true surrender of self for the needs of others. In seeking to gain perspective of others, we need to recognize it should be done out of a heart of service for their good, “so that [we] may by all means save some.” Paul’s motivation was to teach and save the lost. Our motivation is not social in nature, to be liked or accepted by a group or individual. While that might be the outcome, our motivation is to be educated and adept enough to teach in a way that they will listen. Giving people information is not hard. Giving people information in a way that they will listen, that is the trick. For some, we need to be able to relate, find common ground, or sit where they sit for a while. A genuineness of our motive can be shown with our investment of time and thought with those we seek to teach.
Please note that Paul in no way lived as a lawless person during his time working with those that were without the law. He said he was still under the law of Christ. In our service to others, we must maintain the moral convictions and commandments we have been taught. If we waver or set them aside, then we undermine the absolute nature of God’s word. We have taught them situational service. By our actions we teach that we must follow God’s law, but that there are times when we can set it aside. In doing so, we have taught them lukewarm service.
Let us be motivated to sit with people. Make the time to learn where people are coming from. We are more prepared to teach effectively. We see example after example of Christ doing the same thing. Should we be any different?