As we begin this chapter we see that Paul shares his strong desire for his fellow Jews to become saved. You may remember that he did the same exact thing at the beginning of Chapter 9, focusing there on God’s sovereignty in selecting who gets saved. Here he reiterates that same desire for their salvation, but in this chapter he focusses on man’s responsibility.
Today I suspect I’m only going to get as far as verse one because it is so packed with meaning. We get to look through an open window into Paul’s heart. He says “my heart’s desire…is for their salvation.” I’m going to spend some time contemplating the words “heart’s desire.” Yearning. Craving. Longing for. I know I crave many things. In fact, if I were told to list the things I crave I could easily generate a long list: some would be be obvious, some would make you laugh, some would be embarrasing and certainly not suitable for printing. But of all the things I crave how high up on that list would be the salvation of the lost? Not nearly high enough I’m afraid to admit.
It’s good to examine our cravings and look truthfully at them. Are the things we crave the most the most beneficial? Shouldn’t it bother us if our energy, time, and mental preoocupation is spent craving and pursuing things that are unimportant or meaningless or harmful? Yes, it should.
I want to reflect a bit more on cravings. First, we can’t directly control them–they’re not like a faucet we can easily turn on and off at will. Some cravings are part of how we are wired as humans: perfectionism, intellectualism, appreciation of beauty, a general attraction to the opposite sex, etc. Other cravings are special gifts from God: like my daughter Lexi’s natural compassion for struggling people.
But many of our cravings are acquired over time as we’ve allowed certain things to become important to us. We train our minds over time that this thing or that thing is important or desirable and we begin to spend time, energy, and money to pursue those cravings. These are acquired tastes. The more we invest in that craving, the more it grows–a snowball effect. This is true whether we crave coffee, antiques, friendships, popularity, gadgets, getting a boyfriend or girlfriend, chocolate, beer, control, pornography, etc.
So my practical question is this: how can we become more like Paul and have our cravings rearranged so that concern for the salvation of the lost is nearer the top of our lists?
Partly, I’m thinking our desires are God’s doing, as in Rom 9 on sovereignty. This may be one of those special gifts from God–and so we should ask Him to open our eyes to the needs of the lost around us; ask Him to break our hearts for the things that break His; ask Him to help us think truthfully about the eternal destiny of others.
And partly, I’m thinking that our desires are our doing, as in Rom 10 on man’s responsibility. To get Paul’s passion for the lost there may be changes we can make in our lives to help foster it. Noticing the lost people around us; praying for them, serving them (PCS); reading books on evangelism; talking about it as a family and with others; getting biographies of champion soul winners; investing less time, money and mental preoccupation in other pursuits and redirecting them to this one; utilizing the “Seek the City” prayerguide book starting this Wed; and fully participating in “Just Walk Across The Room” series coming in two weeks.
I conclude that God’s sovereignty and our responsibility go hand-in-hand in this area of passion for the lost.
What if God would change us so that we could say like Paul and with integrity, “My heart’s desire…is for their salvation.” What will you and I do to get there?