22. Great Sorrow for a Great People

Romans 9:2

I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.

Let me ask you five thought-provoking questions:

1. Do you anguish over others? Do you sorrow for those who do not know Jesus Christ and who are therefore perishing without him? I am afraid most of us do not. Why is that? Is it because we do not believe they are perishing? Because we do not believe the gospel? Probably it is because we are not very much like Jesus Christ, do not spend much time with him, and do not think of spiritual things much at all.

2. Do you anguish over those closest to you, the members of your own family? Paul grieved for the Gentiles, but these verses deal with his own people and with his personal, special sorrow for them. If we were like him, husbands would grieve for unsaved wives, wives for unsaved husbands, parents for children, and children for parents. We would grieve for members of our extended families and for our neighbourhoods.

3. Do you anguish over those who are your enemies? Paul’s sorrow was also for those who were his avowed enemies. If you have enemies, you are to love them. In fact, you are to love most those who treat you worst. God loved us while we were “enemies” (Rom. 5:10). How are we to win others unless we love even our enemies in this way?

4. Do you anguish over those who are great sinners? The nation for whom Paul grieved was composed of great sinners, for they had rejected the love of God in Christ Jesus. Do you similarly grieve for sinners? If you do not, is it because you do not really consider yourself one of them?

5. Do you anguish over those who have great privileges? Finally, the Jews of Paul’s day possessed great privileges. So we are led to ask ourselves, Do I anguish over those who spiritually are at a greater privilege than others? Those who are in our peaceful land where the gospel is heard freely. Those who have Bibles in their homes and devices. Those who come into our churches yet leave untouched. We are not to be content with the fact that they are among us and are privileged, but before them, they must see that we grieve over their sin and long for their repentance.

I commend the heart of Paul to you. Let the sins of others grieve you. Let the fate that hangs over them be on your mind. If it is, you will work for their salvation in exactly the same proportion, and you will speak often of Jesus in every given opportunity. In another place, Paul would say, ‘For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them…to the Jews…to those outside the law…to the weak…I have become all things to all people, that by all means, I might save some…I do it all for the sake of the gospel’ (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). May we be of the same mind for the sake of the gospel and our lost nation!

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