Read This Week: Romans 9

I speak the truth in Christ — I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit — 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 sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel. – Romans 9:1-4 NIV

We often hear the word compassion as an expression of sympathy in contexts of caregiving professions, the judicial system, or helping the poor and marginalized in society. Compassion is taking pity and having concern for the sufferings and misfortunes of others. But a better definition of compassion is “to suffer together or the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another’s difficulties and feel motivated to relieve them.”

In other words, true compassion in life toward any individual or group doesn’t just stop with the emotion. When we are genuinely feeling compassion, it should move us to action. We should walk alongside others, get involved in their lives, and go beyond our own comfort to help alleviate their suffering.

This was the Apostle Paul’s heart and posture toward the people of Israel in Romans 9. Even though his letter is addressed to the believers in Rome and primarily a Gentile audience, it in no way leaves out his compassion and love for the Jews and the implications of the gospel for his own countrymen. In fact, at the beginning of the entire book, he says that the gospel is rooted in God’s dealings with Israel. Because of this, we not only see his compassion for the nation but his anguish at their unbelief in Christ.

We observe Paul’s intense concern in verse 3, “For I could wish that I, myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race.” When Paul thought of his people and their estrangement from God, he felt overwhelming grief. His compassion is so strong that he is ready to forfeit his own hope in Christ if it would benefit and save them. It would be hard to find a greater expression of love and an ultimate form of compassion than this. Paul is so desperate for the Jews to be saved that he would ask God to cut him off from Christ if that would bring their redemption.

Just imagine if this type of compassion, care, and effective love was felt and expressed in the hearts and lives of modern-day believers? That we would care so much for the suffering and lostness of those far from God, that we would be willing to go to any lengths to see them rescued from their sin, restored to a relationship with their heavenly Father, and experience the joy of eternal salvation.

As followers of Jesus, there is no such thing as caring too much. There is no such thing as having compassion without action. Our understanding of God’s sovereignty and what He has done for us should not lead to complacency or apathy about the spiritual and physical suffering of others, but to extraordinary empathy and burden for them. Our love for Christ and his gospel compels us beyond a feeling to a calling, a purpose, and a mission to care too much.

6 Comments

  1. Ken on August 6, 2020 at 12:27 pm

    No greater love than one who lays down their life for their friends. When I think of laying down your life, I realize that a big part of that is giving what God has given you while you are here in this world. Investing your time in others generates a huge return here and in the hereafter. Utilizing your gifts and talents for the benefit of others, while passing on or paying forward the blessings of God in your life, is paramount to receiving from God.

    I like to say “don’t stop the flow.” We are so blessed by God as we give to others and we give to others because we have received so much from God. Thank you, Lord for being such a good giver and teaching us to be like You.

    • Jason on August 10, 2020 at 1:44 pm

      I appreciate the encouragement in your post, Ken. This is something we as believers need to hear and have reflected to us about “laying our lives down.”

      I especially like your saying: Don’t stop the flow. That is a great word picture for blessing and serving others out of what God has and is pouring into us. I get the image of an estuary, where a river meets the ocean and creates these headwaters that are the power and energy source of a river. God’s Spirit is the headwaters that feed into our lives and fuel us as we feed into others.

      Thank you for that challenge to not stop the flow of God’s goodness and love.

  2. almaschmidt on August 6, 2020 at 4:54 pm

    This week, God gave me a song from Romans chapter 9 called, “Trust”:

    Trusting you, trusting you, we trust in you, our Lord
    Trusting, believing, relying on you
    We are your sheep who love to serve you, our Lord

    You are supreme of all
    You are our Potter, we are your clay

    When we trust you, our Lord we will never be disappointed
    You are abundant in Your patience, understanding, and love
    When we stumble, we trust in your strength to move forward

    Trusting you, trusting you, we trust in you, our Lord
    Trusting, believing, relying on you
    We are your sheep who love to serve you, our Lord. Amen.

    Jesus is our cornerstone, so let’s follow and stand firm with Him. He loves all.

    • Jason on August 10, 2020 at 1:07 pm

      This was my favorite line from your song this week, Alma:

      When we trust you, our Lord we will never be disappointed
      You are abundant in Your patience, understanding, and love
      When we stumble, we trust in your strength to move forward

      This is so true. We will never be disappointed when we trust and walk in God’s ways. He never steers us wrong. God tends to move toward those who are submissive and humble enough to recognize their inability to navigate life without Him. I want to be that person and am thankful for his patience, understanding, and love for me when I am not.

  3. Heidi on August 9, 2020 at 10:16 am

    What I love about Paul’s heart is His love for Father God, Jesus, and God’s Spirit. The Holy Spirit, who is all about love, guides us in the right direction. I see Paul’s heart, like God’s heart is sad because he feels great pain in his spirit over those who have not accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior. Paul suffered and went out of his way to help people know who God is and how much He loves them. Even Moses suffered because he wanted people to receive salvation.

    I love the song I Will Be My Brother’s Keeper. That should be our purpose in life to be our brother’s and sister’s keeper. There will be people who will not respond to God’s love, but like Paul and many others, we need to keep going and not give up when people reject Jesus. Keep our hearts soft and pray for our enemies and people who don’t respond at that moment. One day we hope they will respond to God and get what they need from Him. I pray for everyone to just open up a little bit of their heart to God and He will help them!

    I hear God saying, “I Am with you as you go out! Guard your heart so you can lead people in the right way. Don’t give up or be offended because you have a part in my plan to lead, guide, and help people go in the right direction. I love you all.”

    • Jason on August 10, 2020 at 1:22 pm

      I love your assertion here and the imagery of being our brother’s and sister’s keeper. With the Holy Spirit in our lives, we have the ability to reach out to, care for, walk with, and be consistent in our ministry to others.

      The Spirit gives us power that we do not have naturally to love others and not give up on them when they reject, offend, or don’t respond to us and the message of Christ. It is truly a supernatural thing that He does in our lives so we can, as you said, go out of our way to help people know who God is and how much He loves them.

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