Several years ago when my small group was between Bible studies we decided to spend a few sessions taking turns sharing whatever devotional thoughts we had for that week. When it came to be my turn to share, I asked the group “What is the most valued possession you have that you would not give up for any reason whatsoever?” After a few moments of silent reflection, one person said “My salvation. I would not give that up for anything.” Not more than a few seconds passed and another member said “Yea. Me too.” It didn’t take long for the rest to echo this sentiment; that being born again is what’s valued most.

Since the question was open-ended and any response was purely subjective, I could hardly disagree. Nevertheless knowing members of the group were thoughtful about their faith, I anticipated their answer and offered this: For the Apostle Paul at least, being born again was not what he valued most. Dodging a few cynical glares, I then read Romans 9:1-5.

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. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 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 clearly states that others’ salvation was more valued than his own! It troubled him so deeply to know that some had refused to embrace Jesus as Lord that he was willing, if it were possible, to sever his relationship with Christ (no small thing for him; cf. Galatians 2:20; Philippians 1:21) and suffer eternal damnation for the sake of others coming to know Christ. Did you get that!? Let me say it again, Paul was willing, if it were possible, to suffer eternal damnation for the sake of others coming to Christ! While there may very well be some hypothetical nuance here (surely Paul knew it was impossible to substitute his salvation for that of another), the intensity with which he makes this claim is unquestionable (see v2). No wonder this zealous Jew who was once known for hunting down and killing Christians (Acts 8:1) became so successful in winning others for Christ. He loved the lost beyond measure and understood what’s valued most!

“Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

1 Comment

  1. Fantastic comments! A call to missions to our brethren that I think needs to be echoed.

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