“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.”
I don’t even know how to comprehend what I just read. Paul just said … Talking about his desire to see his people, specifically Jewish people, come to know the Gospel, the truth about Christ. He says, “I am speaking the truth. I’m not lying. My conscience bears witness in the Holy Spirit. What I’m saying is no exaggeration.” He says, “I have great sorrow, unceasing anguish in my heart, like it won’t go away. It’s unceasing. As God is my witness, this anguish in me will not go away.”
Paul longs in extraordinary love for others to know Christ. In light of the cross of Jesus, we must be filled with compassionate resolve for others to hear the gospel and trust in Christ.
Then he says, “I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers.” Think about what that means. Paul just said that he would give up his salvation if he could, so that the Jewish people would know salvation in Christ. Now, obviously Paul knows he can’t give up his salvation, but he says, “God as my witness. This is the way I feel in my heart. I would give it all up. I would throw myself into hell so that they could go to Heaven, so that they can experience life in Jesus. That’s how bad I want them to come to know Jesus.” And I think, what a statement. Would I say that? Would I say that for a group of people? “God, I’d go to hell, if only they would come to know Christ.” I’d give up my salvation.
That is a level of compassion and love; a selfless love that really is Christ-like, isn’t it? After all, this is what Jesus has done for us. He went to the cross. He endured the wrath of God so that we might be saved. So that we might not experience God’s wrath. That means the only way we can love people who are apart from Christ like this is if Christ produces this kind of love in us. This is a distinctly Christ-like love, Christ-like compassion, a Christ-like burden for the lost. So God, I pray for this kind of burden for the lost. I pray for this in my life. God, this does not come naturally to me. I don’t even know how to get to that point where I would say this for a group of people, and even … I think about … God, Paul was being persecuted by Jews. They were seeking to kill him, and he says this for them.
In the same way Jesus did, he went to the cross. He endured judgment, not just from you, but pain from others for their salvation. So God, I pray for this kind of burden for the lost in me, for those who are listening right now. Please, by the power of Christ in us, give us your love. Give us a selfless compassion for the lost. If Paul was willing to throw himself into hell that others might be saved, God, please help us to be willing to risk our reputation a day. To risk comfort in a conversation, to throw aside fear. God, please help us to be faithful to share the gospel today and then we pray, God. We pray for Jewish people today.
We pray for Jewish men and women and children around the world. God, may they know the truth of Christ. God, please help us to lay down our lives so they might know the truth of Christ. We pray for other groups of people. We pray for the Fulani and Mali; 1.2 million people there. Muslim men and women and children. God, we pray that some of us would lay down our life to spread the gospel to them, and to other people and groups like them. God, we pray for Romans 9:1-3 like burdens and compassion for the laws right around us, around the world. Please, please, please produce this kind of Christ-like love in me, in us. We pray in Jesus name. Amen.
Download the weekly Bible reading plan to follow along with each episode of Pray the Word.
Get Pray the Word daily by subscribing here.