Love for the Lost

Love for the Lost

  • Luke 18:11-12 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’

The Pharisees were the religious elite when Jesus walked on earth. They elevated themselves while looking down on the people they considered to be ‘sinners’. Read Matthew 23 to see how Jesus rebuked them for their self-righteousness and judgment of others.

How do you view those lost in sin? Does your heart go out to them? Do you pray that God will draw them close by the power of His spirit for salvation in Christ? Do you condemn them or love them?

Be careful; don’t be too quick to pat yourself on the back. Be honest, do you ever think or say things like:
  • ‘I can’t believe what she did.’
  • ‘He deserves what he gets.’
  • ‘I’m glad I’m not like that.’
  • ‘He should have known better.’
  • 'I would never do that.’
  • ‘There’s a special place in Hell for people like that.’

  • Matthew 23:27-28 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Now I am not calling anyone reading this devotion a Pharisee.  Because, as much as I hate to admit it, despite my heartfelt prayers for the lost, despite my desire to shine as a light in the lives of others and share the love and good news of Christ, I often find myself criticizing and judging others; and not in a concerned, loving or sympathetic way, but in an arrogant, intolerant and condemning way.

From the depths of my humanity, as my sin nature rises to the surface, forgetting that it is only by God’s mercy, love and grace that I surrendered my life to Christ, I find myself judging others.
  • Ephesians 2:4-5 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),

As a child of God, I am called to do better that that!
  • Luke 6:27-28 “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.
  • Luke 6:37-38 “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

My only hope is to look in God’s Word, pray for understanding and acceptance of His view of the lost, and trust Him to continue His working in me to make me more like Jesus.
  • Jesus came to earth to save the lost.
    • Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
    • Luke 19:10 for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
  • God’s desire if for everyone to be reconciled to Him.
    • Ezekiel 33:11 Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’
    • 2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
    • 1 Timothy 2:3-4 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

But God's love for all and His desire to see everyone saved doesn't make Him a pushover.  He will not be mocked!  He will dispense grace and justice according to His perfect knowledge and righteousness.

And to go a step further, this doesn’t just apply to how we look at the lost. It also applies to how we think about our Christian brothers and sisters.
  • John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
  • Romans 14:4 Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.

It would be wrong to present the verses above as an ‘argument’ for how we should view others without also looking at a few of the verses that tells us about some of the things God ‘hates’. 
  • Proverbs 6:16-19 These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: 17 A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, 18 A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, 19 A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren.
    • These verses make very clear that God hates sin.
  • Psalm 11:5 The Lord tests the righteous, But the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates.
  • James 4:4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
    • These verses tell us that God considers those who love sin as His enemy (those He has rejected/set aside). However, that doesn’t mean that He desires their destruction.

But to be absolutely clear, the Bible clearly teaches that if your sin debt has not been paid by the shed blood of Christ, you will spend eternity in Hell separated from God and His goodness.

So, practically speaking, how should Christians view those who fall short of the glory of God (which means every living person – Christians included)?


Hate the sin, love the sinner.


Prayer

Father, help us to love others as You have commanded and equipped us to do. Help Your children to refrain from judging others. Please forgive me for where I fall short. Guide us in prayer for and Christ-like words and actions towards those who need salvation and those struggling with sin. I pray these things in the name of my Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. Amen