Friday, April 25, 2014

A Heart for the Lost

God is LoveFor much of my Christian life, evangelism has been on the back burner.  I didn't feel up to the task, even knowing how important it was.  There were many excuses. He wouldn't listen to me. I don't know enough to answer the hard questions. She doesn't see the Bible the same way I do. Mainly, though, I just didn't think about it.  In recent months, the Holy Spirit has shown me through His Word that I needed to stop making excuses and start sharing the gospel. Every time I opened the Bible or listened to a sermon or talked to a friend, there it was staring me in the face.  Sharing Jesus is my job. I coudn't ignore it anymore, and I knew that my main problem was that I just didn't have a heart for the lost.  So I asked God to give me one. I didn't realize how painful it would be.

Not only could I not ignore my job anymore, I couldn't ignore the fact that my loved ones make up a mission field of their own. Lying awake at night, thinking about how to reach them became a routine. There was no peace without obedience.  I kept imagining my family and friends asking "Why didn't you tell me?" on judgment day.  The thought of not seeing them in heaven made me weep.  For the first time, I understood Paul's words.  

For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:16).
I also found that a heart for the lost is a heart that hurts more often.  After putting hours of fervent prayers and thought into the best way to share Jesus with someone, it's impossible not to hurt when he or she rejects the Word of God.  I knew it would happen; Jesus told us that many more people would reject him than accept him (Matthew 7:13-14). Sometimes all we can do is continue in prayer, but knowing I've done all I can doesn't make the hurt any less.  I can't expect to be any different from my Savior.  He wept over Jerusalem, knowing than many Jews would not accept him (Matthew 23:37; Luke 13:34).

What hurts even more is knowing that despite my best intentions, there will always be people who see judgment instead of love. It doesn't matter that we leave the judgment up to God or that we weep bitter tears over their souls; telling someone that there is one way to heaven is an invitation to be either ignored or called hypocrites and Pharisees.  Jesus was right.

Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's enemies will be the members of his household (Matthew10:34-36).
It hurts to be spiritual enemies, even if the relationship goes on as before on the surface of things.

Despite all this discomfort and hurt, I'm glad I asked God for a heart for the lost.  It has helped me to overcome excuses I've used for years and to be obedient in sharing the love of Christ.  I could never have done that on my own without the Spirit leading me.  He's continuing to lead me, showing me that each and every person is a soul.  Loved ones are an easy mark for evangelism, but I'm starting to think about others.  The lady who stands by me as we wait to pick up our kids from school, friends I haven't seen in years, the incarcerated ladies that our prison ministry serves.  They all have souls, and I'm developing a heart for them as well.

What about you?  Have you made excuses not share the gospel?  Do you even think about it in your daily life?  Until recently, I was either making excuses or ignoring my job, so you'll get no judgment from me.  Just a word of advice.  Ask for a heart for the lost, but don't expect it to be comfortable.  


Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission

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