It’s usually a whole lot easier to pick on the sins of other people, instead of addressing our own. I remember years ago, when I was in seminary, watching an evangelist on television turn to the tv camera and say, “I’m here to tell you, all you godless atheists and secular humanists out there …” and the crowd got all fired up and applauded and said “amen!” But I remember thinking to myself; “How many ‘godless atheists and secular humanists’ did he think were really out there watching his show?” But it made for a rousing speech, and for good television!
It’s easy to sit here in front of a bunch of Christians and rant about the sins of others. And truly there is a place for us to preach against the sins of society, and make sure our people don’t get caught up in the tide of moral compromise. We are not to keep silent, and we need to train our people in the truth. But truthfully it’s a whole lot easier to condemn the sins of people “out there” in the world, and ignore the sins of the people sitting right in front of you.
This week we read in Micah 3 about how God condemned the false prophets, who “speak ‘peace’” as long as someone pays them — but he said, “On the other hand I (the true prophet of God) am filled with power and with the Spirit of the Lord and with justice and courage, to make known to Jacob his rebellious act, and to Israel his sin.” He says the true prophet of God, will point out the sins of Jacob and Israel — NOT the sins of Ammon, or Moab, or the Philistines — but the sins of JACOB — GOD’S people. That means that a big part of a pastor’s job is to speak to the sins of God’s people. And if we don’t do that, we are not being faithful to God’s call.
And one of the biggest sins of God’s people today is be our lack of concern for people who don’t know Christ as their Lord & Savior. This is no small sin, because it goes right to the very heart of our faith, and it shows what we really believe. Paul addresses this here in Romans 10:1 where he says, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.”
Now the context of this verse is very important. If you read Romans this last week you know that Paul spent a lot of Romans 9 talking about how he was troubled for the salvation of his Jewish brothers and sisters. In fact he begins Chapter 9:1, “I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites …”.
So these are the people he is talking about here as he opens Chapter 10, saying “My heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.” Continue reading