I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.
Paul is another example of a man who went to any length to see people saved. This is seen most clearly in today’s passage. Paul exposed his heart in Romans 9:1-5. People who mattered greatly to him—his fellow Jews—were lost and headed for hell. This troubled Paul deeply. Yet their lost condition was not because they were ignorant of God’s Word or His ways. In fact, they had so many advantages but tragically were still far from God.
Here Paul reflected God’s own heart for those living without Jesus. Paul experienced intense sorrow, like grieving at the death of a loved one, when he thought about his unbelieving friends. That many of his people were outside of the family of Christ was never far from his mind.
As if the deep emotions expressed so far weren’t enough, Paul went on to express an almost unbelievable wish. He was so burdened that, if it were possible—and he knew it to be an impossible wish—he would go to hell for the benefit of others who were lost. This is shocking. He wanted people to know heaven so badly that he would go to hell. Compared to Paul, our passion is weak. We should want to know this kind of desperation because when we do, God’s heart for the lost becomes our heart for the lost.
- Describe Paul’s emotion in this passage. What is the source of Paul’s anguish?
- What do you think you would be willing to sacrifice to see people come to know Jesus? What have you sacrificed in the past?
- Pray that Paul’s desire would become your own.