Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Day 17: Uncomfortable Compassion

Romans 9:1-8

What might make you uncomfortable:

Paul wishes himself cursed so that others could be blessed. His compassion for the people of Israel should strike our hearts with conviction for our own peoples and nations.

Today's Devotional:

Romans 9-11 begins another section of the book of Romans pertaining to Israel and God's plans for the Hebrew people. Paul grapples with some very uncomfortable theological questions about "election" (choices God makes) and justice (God's privilege to make the choice He wants). Readers won't find many easy answers in Romans 9-11. This challenging section of Romans confronts us with our pride and puts us face to face with God's sovereignty.

Paul begins this section in Romans with an interesting statement. Read it below:

I speak the truth in Christ–I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in 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 brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises..."

Did you catch that? Paul wishes himself CURSED so that His own people could be blessed. He even goes so far as to say that he wishes himself "cut off from Christ" for the sake of his brothers in Israel.

We end Romans 8 with joy and thanksgiving as Paul writes that "nothing can separate" him from the love of God. What a stark contrast Romans 9:1-4 presents us.

Our enjoyment of the benefits of salvation can never overshadow our compassion for those that do not know Jesus. Instead, followers of Jesus are called to live in the tension of rejoicing with those who rejoice and mourning with those who mourn (Romans 12:15). Sometimes our compassion for others will even cause us demonstrate a lifestyle of sacrifice before others as a mean of proving God's love for them (Colossians 1:24).

What we see in Paul's life is that as he dives into tough questions about God's justice and fairness, he frames these questions with compassion. His heart is broken for a dying world. Is yours?


Is there a way you have been avoiding suffering your life? Could God be calling you to suffer so that others could live and meet Jesus? Ask yourself this uncomfortable question today throughout your day.

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