No love lost for the lost
“…for my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters. I would be willing to be forever cursed – cut off from Christ! – if that would save them.” – Vs 29 NLT
While most of this chapter is about the good news that God made the gift of salvation available to all men who would accept it, the thing that grabbed my attention more than anything else was the opening statement by Paul. He expresses His sorrow and unceasing grief over the fact that His Jewish brothers and sisters had rejected the very One for whom they had been waiting for generations: Jesus Christ. He was there long-awaited Messiah, yet they had refused to accept Him. Instead they arrested Him, and demanded His execution.
But Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, loved His own people so much that he said, “If there were any way I could be cursed by the Messiah so they could be blessed by him, I’d do it in a minute. They’re my family” (Vs 3 MSG). Do you hear what he is saying? He says he would prefer to be accursed. That Greek word is anathema and it means, “a thing devoted to God without hope of being redeemed, and if an animal, to be slain; therefore a person or thing doomed to destruction.” For something or someone to be deemed anathema entailed them being cut off or forever separated. Paul is willing to be cut off from Christ and God the Father if only His fellow Israelites could experience the blessings of salvation. Now you can see why on every missionary journey Paul went on, the first place he went when he arrived in a town was the synagogue. He may have been the apostle to the Gentiles, but he was not going to overlook the Jews. And practically every time he went to the synagogues, it ended up in him being stoned, threatened, beaten, or chased out of town. But he kept going back.
Paul had a love for the lost sheep of Israel. But what about us? More often than not, we find the lost a roadblock to the cause of Christ. We view them as stubborn and deserving of what they get. We walk past them every day and don’t even think about their eternal state, let alone have the thought cross our minds that we would be wiling to give up our eternal security for theirs. How could Paul think that way? Well, it pretty much sums up the way Jesus Himself thought. He was willing to give up His eternal security to come to earth, take on human flesh, die a sinner’s death, and be separated from God the Father, just so we could be saved. Paul is thinking like Christ. Which is what he calls us all to in his letter to the Philippians:
“…do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” – Philippians 2:4-8
Have this attitude. Think like this. Let this be your outlook. And that’s exactly what Paul did. he practiced what he preached. He loved the lost. He gave his life to see that they wouldn’t remain lost. Paul gave them every opportunity to accept the free gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ. He suffered so that they might not have to. And he was wiling to suffer for eternity if it meant that the Jews could be blessed. That’s amazing and humbling.
Father, give me a love for the lost like Paul. Don’t allow me to walk by, drive by, sit by, and even live by those who are lost without sharing the same sorrow and grief that Paul did for the Jews. Forgive me for seeing lost humanity as a road block to righteousness rather than an opportunity for Your glory to be revealed. Help me see them as You do and as Paul did. Help me to have the same attitude that Jesus did. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men