I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the benefit of my brothers and sisters, my own flesh and blood. (Romans 9:2-3)
Paul, the “apostle to the Gentiles,” was often accused of abandoning his own people the Jews. This couldn’t have been further from the truth. Whenever Paul came to a new city, his first priority was to find the local synagogue so he could share the gospel with his “brothers and sisters” by blood. He was usually rejected by them, so he would move on to minister to the Gentiles in the town, where he was often received much more enthusiastically.
Still, this never dimmed his love for the people of Israel. In verse 1 he gives a triple-oath invoking two members of the Trinity (“I speak the truth in Christ — I am not lying; my conscience testifies to me through the Holy Spirit”) that if it were possible he would even give up his own salvation so his people could be saved. He would have known from reading the story of Moses and the golden calf in Exodus 32 that it wasn’t possible, but this is how deeply and desperately he longed for his people to be saved.
This brings up a pointed question for us: Whose salvation are you deeply and desperately longing for? And what would you be willing to sacrifice in order to see it happen? Would you give up the easygoing comfort of superficial conversations with your friends, in order to tell them about their sin and need for a savior? Would you risk scorn from your family, in order to tell them about your love and devotion to Jesus? Would you give up your me-time to pursue deep conversations with your kids about their faith? Would you be OK if your kids were less successful than you hoped, if it meant they were better-connected to God’s family?
Christ gave up his life so you could be saved. Are you willing to do the same for someone else?