By Pr Herna Kong
Unlike the apostle Peter, the apostle Paul was called specifically to share the Gospel with non-Jews, i.e. the Gentiles. Despite that, Paul earnestly and intensely desired non-Christian Jews to receive salvation as well. Therefore, wherever he was in the course of his missionary journeys, he would drop by synagogues to share the good news with his fellow Jews.
This earnest and intense desire of Paul was evident from the great sorrow and unceasing anguish in his heart, that he felt as a result of his fellow Jews rejecting Jesus as the Messiah. He so fervently wished they would open their hearts to the Gospel, that he was even willing to take their place as those cursed and cut off from Christ (Rom. 9:1-3). The Jews did not treasure the privilege given to them as God’s chosen people, from which the human ancestry of the Messiah can be traced (Rom. 9:4-5). More than that, they lived in disobedience to God by not believing in Jesus as their Messiah, even crucifying him. Yet, Paul still earnestly desired for their salvation.
Moses had the same intense and earnest desire as Paul for his fellow Jews to be saved. When Israel sinned against God in their unbelief—rebelliously choosing to substitute God with idols instead—Moses pleaded for forgiveness on their behalf. Moses, deeply grieved, implored God to forgive their sin, and if not to blot him out of the book He had written (Ex. 32:31-32).
How earnest and intense is our desire for others who do not know Christ to be saved? Are we willing to sacrifice our time, energy, money, etc. to reach out to them? Let us learn from Paul and Moses in their earnest and intense desire for others to be saved, and contemplate on the following words of the English preacher, C.H. Spurgeon: ‘This great passion for souls gave Paul perspective. Lesser things did not trouble him because he was troubled by a great thing—the souls of men. “Get love for the souls of men. Then you will not be whining about a dead dog, or a sick cat, or about the crotchets of a family, and the little disturbances that John and Mary may make by their idle talk. You will be delivered from petty worries if you are concerned about the souls of men … Get your soul full of a great grief, and your little griefs will be driven out…”’ (Spurgeon’s Sermons, Vol. 4; 1878).