“My Heart’s Desire”

by Jim Mickells

“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God” (Romans 10:1-3).

There can be no doubt about the love Paul had for his Jewish brethren. These verses clearly indicate the great desire the apostle had for Israel to be saved by the grace of God. Though he was often persecuted by them, even left for dead on occasion, yet he still tried time and again to teach them the gospel of Christ. When traveling from city to city preaching the unsearchable riches of our Lord, he often went into the Jewish synagogues first. Within the confines of these buildings, he tried his best to point the Jews to the Messiah which was spoken of in the Old Testament. Yet most refused to listen to this man of God. Not because of a lack of effort on his part nor because he didn’t care for them, but because of their desire to have their own way.

We need the same yearning which Paul had, a willingness on our part to share God’s message with our fellow man. It takes time and effort to go out into the fields and sow the seed of the kingdom in the hearts of men and women. We face the same situation the apostle did, not everyone will listen, and most will not accept the truth. Yet the thing lacking among so many followers of Christ it seems, is the love for the souls of our fellow man. May God help each of us to lift our eyes and see the fields that are white to harvest and may our heart’s desire be to teach the gospel to the lost so they can be saved.

How tragic it was because they had a zeal for God but not according to knowledge. Zeal is a wonderful attribute each Christian should possess. When Paul wrote to Titus, he said, “who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14). This same apostle commends the church at Corinth for their zeal and how their enthusiasm stirred others to act as well. “For I know your willingness, about which I boast of you to the Macedonians, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal has stirred up the majority” (2 Corinthians 9:2).

Yet zeal must be connected with knowledge if it is to produce the desired results. Knowing God’s will is essential if one is to be saved. Jesus said: “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me”  (John 6:44-45).

The problem with the Jews in Romans 10 was they were ignorant of God’s way of making man righteous. Through their ignorance (not knowing), they sought to establish their own system of righteousness and they failed to summit to God (Romans 10:3). God has a plan; it has been revealed in the Scriptures and man must obey it if he is to be saved. No amount of zeal will replace knowing and doing the Lord’s will (Matthew 7:21-27).

Many in the religious realm today have a burning zeal for the Lord, yet they lack the knowledge of God’s will just like these Jews did. Those of us who are Christians know what the Scriptures teach, but do we have the desire and zeal that is necessary to bring the lost to Christ? God expects us to possess both knowledge, and zeal. One without the other is not pleasing to our Heavenly Father.

May we busy ourselves with the work God has given us to do. “And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16). Someone loved us enough to share the good news of what Christ did for us on the cross so we could be redeemed. Why not pay such an effort forward so others can have the same opportunity for redemption?

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