OceanSide church of Christ
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DEVELOPING A LOVE FOR LOST SOULS
Victor M. Eskew
As one reads about the Life of Christ, he is impressed with His love for those who were lost. He went to the harlots, the sinners, and the publicans and spoke with them because He knew they needed a physician (Matt. 9:10-13). When He saw the lost, His heart went out to them. His words were often filled with His loving care and concern for them. “But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he to his disciples, the harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of harvest, that he will send labourers into his harvest” (Matt. 9:36-38). His heart of love even went out to the Jews who so adamantly opposed him. To them, He said: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered they children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not” (Matt. 23:37).
This love for the lost is what drove Jesus to seek them (Luke 19:10). It is our love for the lost that will cause us to do the same. Often this love is lacking on our parts. Thus, we must somehow develop it within our hearts. How do we do this? This is the subject of this article.
First, we need to keep in mind that all men are a creation of God. Men are not animals that developed through an evolutionary process. Men are created in the image and likeness of a wonderful God. “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let him have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Gen. 1:26-27). As a creation of God, men is precious. They may be tainted and defiled in many ways, but all men are still fearfully and wonderfully made.
Second, we must remember that all men are under attack by an evil being, Satan. Satan walks the earth seeking whom he may devour (I Pet. 5:8). Many human beings are not aware of the war that is being waged against them. They do not realize that they are in the clutches of the evil one. They are not cognizant that their lives are filled with sin and iniquity. As Jesus said, they are sheep who have gone astray. They are not aware of the danger that has come upon them. If they are not told, they will persist on the road of sin and will ultimately be destroyed (Matt. 7:13-14). Their condition and destiny should cause each one of our hearts to be deeply concerned for them.
Third, to develop a love for others, we must remember that these individuals are separated from God. The lost are God’s creation, but they are not His children. In their sinful state, they the enemies of God. Not only do they have no fellowship with God, they are also in opposition to Him. “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4). It is sad when a person is alienated from God. It should break our hearts to see these individuals in such a state. We should love them enough to point them to the blessings and privileges that are found in Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:3).
Fourth, we can develop a love for the lost by remembering that in times past we, too, were lost. However, we received grace, pardon, and hope because someone loved us enough to tell us about the good news of salvation in Christ. We are alienated from God. We were dead in our trespasses and sins. We were on the broad way that leads to destruction. Someone, however, love us. They taught us the gospel. Their love for us cause them to seek us out in an attempt to save us. Where it not for the efforts of this person, we would still be lost. Think of all those people who can thank Paul for his diligence in bringing them the gospel of Christ. Can’t we love others enough to speak to them about the blessings we have been given through the death of Jesus Christ (I Cor. 2:1-4)?
Fifth, we need to look into the future and see that point in time when the lost will stand in the judgment. If they remain in their lost condition, they will hear these words: “Depart from me ye cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41). Is that what I want them to hear? Is that the fate that I desire for them? Surely not! Don’t I love them enough to warn them? Don’t I love them enough to show them how to hear these words: “Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34)?
We have a duty to the lost, but it is easy to neglect duty. This is why we must develop a love for the lost. Love enables us to fulfill our duties even when we do not want to. Love motivates us to do what needs to be done when we are tired and weary. Love enables us to look beyond sin, hatred, and mockery and seek the welfare of those who are lost. When we really love the lost, nothing will keep us from approaching them with the saving message of Jesus Christ. May we never find ourselves standing at the last day, watching an individual depart into everlasting condemnation, and saying to us: “I wish you have loved me enough to tell me.”