Paul the apostle lived with a heavy heart
I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 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. 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.
Paul the apostle lived with a heavy heart. On his missionary journeys he carried along within himself a very heavy burden. He had great sorrow in his heart. He describes it as an “unceasing anguish.” He had a daily experience of a weight upon his heart for his own nation the Israelites. He tells us it is a truth that is very real in his own conscience that he knows through the Holy Spirit within him.
He is burdened for his own people. The Israelites have received so much from God and yet have responded so poorly to the gifts that God has given them. They had been graciously adopted as the people of God. They often saw and experienced the manifestation of the glory of God. God has made covenants with them to show them the way of salvation. They had all the promises of God. God had met with the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) and had often confirmed His love for them. Paul tells us that Jesus the Messiah had come into the world as an Israelite in fulfillment of what God had promised.
But so many of his people still did not believe in the One whom God had sent. Paul says some shocking words: “For I wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” Paul says that his burden is so great, that he would be willing to be cursed and separated from the Savior if it would mean that his fellow Jews could be saved.
This reminds us of a responsibility of every disciple of Christ. We are to carry in our hearts a burden given by the Holy Spirit for those who yet have not experienced the grace of God. We are to pray for God to be merciful to those yet in darkness.
Salvation begins as God the Holy Spirit gives a burden. God in His sovereign plan has chosen to use His people to bring salvation to a lost world. His heart must become our hearts. His love for the lost must be our motivation.
God gave His all in giving His Son for us. He could not give a greater gift. He loved a lost world so much that he gave His only Son as a sacrifice for sin. Now as the people of God, as His beloved children, His burden becomes ours. We pray for the lost. We ask God to make us “salt and light” to those He has brought into our lives.
We carry a burden for a broken, lost world, asking God to be merciful to others as He has been merciful to us. We are to be “friends of sinners” as Jesus was while here on earth. We pray for the light of God to shine brightly upon their lives and awaken them to their need of a Savior.
Pray: God, most gracious Savior, help me to be a light in this dark world. Let your burden for a lost world become my burden. By your grace let me be salt and light as I am a friend of sinners. Lift the veil of darkness from the minds and hearts of my friends. Open their eyes to the Savior’s love. Use my life as a channel of your grace so that others might know you in the forgiveness of their sins. Amen.