How much do we care for the people around us? What kind of passion do we have for them? That’s something I was reflecting on this morning. Here’s real passion:
I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. – Romans 9:1-3, ESV
Paul was willing to give up his own salvation if it would mean the salvation of the rest of the Israelites. He knew that with their hardened hearts, many would never choose Christ. Their eternal fate therefore would be condemnation, not reconciliation. They would not be in heaven, but in hell. The thought of such caused “great sorrow and unceasing anguish” in Paul’s heart. Now that’s passion. And this got me to thinking about how passionate I am about the people around me. I’m not just talking about the people I know. I’m including the people I don’t know, too. After all, Paul couldn’t possibly know all of his kinsmen. Yet he still desired their salvation. How am I doing?
Actually, let’s take that question just for the people I do know. Have I looked for opportunities to live out my faith in front of them? Have I prayed for opportunities to share the Gospel with them? Have I seized those opportunities to do just that in a gentle, loving way as the Bible commands me to do so? Do I show a care and concern that says, “I love you and you are important to me,” in what I say and do towards them? Is it genuine and does it come across that way? Do I share Paul’s feelings of great sorrow and unceasing anguish for those whom I know aren’t Christians? Would I be willing to trade in my own salvation, if that’s what it took, for theirs?
Those questions are hard ones, but they are valid ones given our calling to go into the “fields ripe unto harvest.” What God is asking us to do is so far beyond picking crops. He desires for us to be part of reaching out to those who have not accepted His grace and received salvation for their sins. He is asking us to be involved in the giving and receiving of the greatest gift ever offered, one whose value we should hopefully understand ourselves. What in our lives is worth more than a person’s salvation?
Then we need to look at the people around us whom we don’t know. There is no separate list of criteria. There is no lack of passion from Paul. All of those who were lost were part of his passion. Therefore, once we figure out how to step up for those we know and love, we need to do it for everyone else, too. This is a hard thing. It means we have to get out of our comfort zones and make ourselves vulnerable to folks we don’t know if we can trust. That’s hard enough for folks we know and love. But again, what in our lives, including our pride and/or our feelings, is worth more than a person’s salvation?
This is what I was struggling with this morning. This is what was placed on my heart to share. So many around us do not know the Lord Jesus Christ. They don’t have any sort of relationship with Him because they’ve never received His grace. They’ve never wanted it. Maybe they don’t even know it’s available and they need it. I know I need to do a whole lot better job of reaching out and sharing. I need to contemplate more where people will end up if they don’t accept Christ. Is this something I really want to let happen? Or do I want to do everything I can do, as God calls me to do it, to reach out and share the Savior who is everything to me? What about you? Lord, give us hearts that yearn and ache and break over those who do not know you so that we might have the passion Paul had, so that we might be compelled and driven to share Your Good News with the people around us.