A Heart for the Lost.

Last time, I wrote about the reasons why the unsaved should change their ways. Today, I’m going to flip the perspective to those who are already saved towards those who aren’t.

I meet regularly with a group of men and was asked to do a devotional for this week. Immediately, 1 Timothy 2 popped into my head. It’s a familiar verse to all of us.

1 Timothy 2:1-6 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

I am NOT coming at this from an angle of politics, although that certainly could be addressed. I have two things to discuss. First, this is a call to pray for all who are unsaved. Second, there is a benefit that we really need to pay attention to.

Notice how many times the word “all” is in the passage. I have to confess that this passage convicted me – hard. I tend to focus my evangelistic prayer on those closer to me and, to my shame, to those I care about most. Little prayer gets offered up for those who are my enemies or to those I don’t know.

When I read this, I see the error in my ways. There is a sense in which God is the one who decides whom he will have mercy on (Romans 9:15) and that decision was made even before the earth was made (Ephesians 1:4) which takes me completely out of the picture. How can I influence a decision that God has made before any of us were born? However, there is more to it than that.

Just as God holds each man accountable for his (her) refusal to believe even though his eyes have been blinded by Satan (2 Corinthians 4:4), so, too, does God require believers to pray for the salvation of the lost.

Romans 10:1 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.

This should give me great reason to have a different attitude rather than, “Oh, well, there’s nothing I can do about it anyway.” Indeed, Paul has a heart for unbelievers:

Romans 9:1-3 I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.

Do I feel this way? I would like to say I do, but I’m not there. Lord, this is where I need to be. Bring me there.

The second point I want to make is with this verse:

1 Timothy 2:2b …that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

Let’s face it, the world is becoming more and more hostile to the gospel. We need to accept the fact that sooner than later things are going to change dramatically for the church. Already, our voice is mocked and even attacked. Unless things reverse course, we need to be prepared for the worst.

However, this verse tells me that there is hope even in the midst of a hostile environment. We are to pray – for all people including kings and rulers – so that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life.

I’m not sure what this means in light of the early church, one in which Paul regularly received beatings for his bold proclamation of the gospel and which most apostles lost their life. They weren’t quiet. Yet, the church exploded in those days.

I don’t know, but I can’t deny that the verse is there and there for a reason. We can benefit greatly simply by praying for the lost. Could it be that if my heart is truly broken for them, they will recognize my compassion? Could it be that they might be more willing to listen to me as I explain the gospel?

Perhaps, and perhaps there is even more. I don’t know about you, but I can see a lot of benefit to finding favor among kings and rulers, so it is worth our time and effort to figure this out. Imagine if our Christian addiction treatment centers were forced to teach ALL forms of “spirituality” including Islam and New Age religions. Those would, in good conscience, have to shut their doors rather than promote a different gospel (see Galatians 1:6-10).

There’s a lot at stake, so we would be wise to take these things to heart. And by “we,” I mean starting with “me.”

Father, I ask for a sincere and deep compassion for the lost. Break my heart for them so that I simply must engage this lost and dying world. Amen.

Copyright © 2020 Scott Powers

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