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Mid-Week with Christ
July 29, 2020

Sorrow for the Lost

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Romans 9:1-13

1 I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 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. 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. 6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. 9 For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

Prayer for the Day

Merciful God, help us to rightly understand the grace you have shown to us, that we might extend grace to others and share with them the Gospel of Your Son, Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.

There is a word in German, schadenfreude, that describes the joy someone feels over the misfortune of others. YouTube is full of videos that thrive on schadenfreude. There's the man who misses the rung on the ladder and falls flat on his face. The kid whose bike misses the turn so that he lands in the muddy creek. The practical jokes played on unsuspecting co-workers. The amateur gymnast who breaks the window with a missed flip. I could go on, and you could too.

What explains our desire to laugh at other people's misfortunes? It may be, in part, our secret joy that it didn't happen to us. It may also be, in part, our belief that we wouldn't be so dumb. If it's the latter, then we are just fooling ourselves. If it's the former, then we ought to repent. 

The apostle Paul started his life out as Saul, a Pharisee of Pharisees (Philippians 3:5). He considered himself a blameless Jew. Then he encountered the resurrected Lord Jesus while on a trip to Damascus. Baptized into the name of the Triune God, Paul became a preacher of the Good News of salvation in the cross of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:9-10).

Paul could have praised himself for this turn of events, and taken credit for his becoming a Christian. He could have proclaimed that God chose him because he knew he would be a great writer and a great evangelist. But he never did. Instead, he insisted that it was by grace - undeserved kindness - that God brought him to faith and saved him. Because Paul so firmly believed in that grace, he could not take joy in seeing others live without it. 

The more we appreciate the role that God's grace has in our Christian lives, the harder it is to remain indifferent to others who are lost. We would give anything for our friends and family to see Christ as their Lord. Yet we know that God must call them to faith. So we pray that through the Gospel we share he will do so, and do so speedily. 
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