A Spirit of Self Sacrifice {Romans 9}

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By Lisa Moore

The first eight chapters of Romans are also known as "the gospel according to Paul".  In these chapters Paul teaches that the only way to have a relationship with God and to receive salvation is not through good works or the Law, but rather grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  Now Paul shifts his focus to Israel and his heartbreak over the refusal of the Jews to accept the risen Messiah.

Paul begins by bemoaning, "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 kinsman according to the flesh..." (vs. 1-3)  Paul's heart ached for his fellow Jews and their rejection of Jesus.  So much so that he himself was willing to be separated from the Lord if it meant the salvation of Israel.  Pretty remarkable considering that at the time of Paul's' ministry, the Jewish people did everything they could to thwart his spreading of the Good News.  They followed him from town to town, harassing and persecuting him.  They stirred up the crowds with lies to incite violence against him.  They hated him to the point of wanting him dead.  Yet through it all Paul never lost hope that they would receive Jesus as their Savior and realize that every hope and promise was fulfilled in Him.  

Such a selfless love is hard to fathom.  After all it's easy for us to want the best for those whom we love, and who love us in return.  But what about those who don't?  Can we have the attitude of a Paul?   Can we have hearts so full of love for Jesus that we grieve over His lost? Through our own strength such a love is impossible.  But if we let Him, God will build in us that same kind of humble, self sacrificing spirit.  A spirit exemplified also by Moses.

In Exodus chapter 32, the people of Israel, tired of waiting for the return of Moses down Mt. Sinai, decided to forsake God.  They commanded Aaron to make a false idol, a golden calf, to worship and make sacrifices to.  And in His anger towards their disobedience God said to Moses, "Now then let Me alone that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them; and make of you a great nation." (Ex. 32:10)  Instead of taking God up on His offer, Moses pleaded with God to forgive the sins of Israel.  And if God was unwilling, Moses asked Him, "...if not, please blot me out from Your book which You have written." (Ex. 32:32)  Moses asked to face the same consequences the people of Israel would face as a result of their sin.  These same people who Moses did so much for, who appreciated nothing, and constantly grumbled against him.  Just like Paul, Moses was willing to make a great personal sacrifice.  Yet being sinners themselves, neither one of them could be an atonement for sin.  But there was One who could. The only acceptable substitute for the sins of the world was God Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ.

"But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons." (Gal. 4:4-5)  Jesus came to take our place.  To pay in full the sin debt which we owed.  In the ultimate example of self sacrifice, Jesus died so we could be reconciled to God and be adopted into His heavenly family.  Through Christ we are able to experience a life free from condemnation.  Free from rituals and religion.  Free from the burden of keeping the Law.  This was the life Paul wanted for the Jewish people.  And a life that as believers, we should want for all of those who walk in darkness.  Paul was willing to do what it took to lead people to faith.  Are we willing to do the same?  How badly do you want people to know Jesus?

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