That They May Be Saved
“Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.” Romans 10:1
Paul is talking about the Israelites, the Jewish people here. At the end of chapter 9 he talks about the fact that the Gentiles have found righteousness because of their faith but that Israel can’t ever seem to attain it because they are still trying to work for it by keeping the law. But what is so amazing here is that Paul still has a heart for them that he is praying for their salvation. At that time Israel, the Jewish people were persecuting Christians. Paul knew this all too well because he was one of them. We know that he was Saul who was persecuting Christians and had the conversion experience on the road to Damascus and he became a follower of Christ, Paul. I’m sure the persecution didn’t end just because Paul stopped. Yet here Paul is praying for them that they will be saved.
What about us? We live in a world where Christians are ridiculed for our beliefs. And we, or I know I, have a tendency to be angry because my Christian values are trampled on and ridiculed and I feel “persecuted”. When, really? If that is the most persecution I ever receive that is nothing. There are still places in the world where Christians truly are persecuted and they have to hide to read their bible and have bible studies and church. They may be beaten and some even martyred for their faith. Yet, am I just frustrated and angry at the people who ridicule us or am I praying for them? Is it my heart’s desire that they may be saved? Ouch! I am afraid I fall short of this a lot of the time. As Christians instead of being angry at that person who is a not a believer and may think your values and faith may be silly we should be praying for them. There is such a dividing line between them vs. us this day and time. Christians are supposed to be tolerant but non-believers aren’t. I do believe that we have to stand up for our rights but we also have to be careful to stand up and speak against the issues and not the people. We know that God’s desire is for all to be saved. And we truly have to show them that what we have is something that they are missing out on. It’s hard, I know but if we look into Paul’s heart here in this short little prayer, maybe we can find the mark.
Paul also goes on in the next couple of verses to talk about how the Israelites have a zeal for God but no real knowledge of Him.
“For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” Romans 10:2-4
The Israelites have a zeal for God, they have a zeal for keeping the law. But their knowledge falls short because they are seeking to establish their own righteousness, instead of submitting to Christ who came to fulfill the law. I have even seen Christians who were so zealous for knowledge of the Bible that they forgot the compassion and the love of Jesus for their fellow man. I hope and pray that we don’t fall into that category. I hope that even when we feel like our Christian rights are being trampled on and ridiculed that we can stand against that in love. That we can look at the people who are delivering the “persecution” as people who God dearly loves. And that our heart’s desire would be for them to be saved.