I have spent the better part of the morning crying, and not just crying, but grieving deeply. It matters not for the “what,” but it does matter that I grieve with Paul over the loss of loved ones that refuse the gospel message. So here’s my question: What brings grief to your heart?
Is it the loss of a loved one to death without hope? How about the loss of a job? How about the loss of a home due to flooding? How about the loss of a nation or a people group? Grief is a very real and present emotion. We are even now watching from the sidelines as Syria is a battle zone. But, Paul is speaking in the first century and his heart grieves for the loss of his people as they continue to deny Christ and salvation. “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.” Is this my grief, too?
Temporal losses of a job are tough but there is always hope to find another. You can lose a home and its contents, but you can build a new one. You cannot bring back a loved one or restore a nation to wholeness. Grief takes its toll and some never recover. The deepest grief is when those you love die and enter a Christless eternity. Paul is grieving and we, too, should also grieve when this occurs.
It is because of that we must earnestly contend for the faith. We must “go and make disciples.” We must pray for our loved ones who do not know Christ. Paul was willing, just as Moses, to forgo his eternal salvation so that the lost might be saved.
How deep is our grief for the lost?