Summary: How can we develop a heart for the lost, a heart like the apostle Paul's?
How would you describe someone who has a heart for dogs? Well, we would say they love dogs. We know this because they’re constantly surrounded by dogs. They’re the one who constantly post cute pictures of dogs on facebook. Dogs are their passion, their first love. They go out of their way to help care for neglected or abused dogs. Their life revolves around dogs.
Now take that same idea and apply it to spiritual matters, how would you describe someone who has a heart for the lost? In the same terms? Sure. But in doing so, you would describing the apostle Paul. Let’s take a look at how he expressed a heart for the lost and learn how you can imitate him.
Paul’s Heart For The Lost
The Unbeliever (Acts 17:16-34):
(16) – Paul’s inner-spirit was deeply troubled by the sight of an entire city of Athens given over to rampant idolatry. (17-34) – Paul’s emotional distress over the sight of so many unbelievers pushed him to teach anyone who would listen, whether it was in the local synagogue (17), or the marketplace (17), or with leading philosophers (18), or in the cities central court the Areopagus (19-34). Paul tried to teach Christ to anyone who would listen.
The Fallen Away (Philippians 3:17-4:1):
(18) – Paul is brought to tears as he recalls those who had become enemies of the cross, just as he did for those who would fall away in Ephesus (ref. Acts 20:29-32) and those who were falling away or had fallen away in Corinth (ref. 2 Corinthians 2:4; cf. 1 Corinthians 11:30). (17, 20-4:1) – Paul’s tears of anguish drove him to teach, not only those who stayed faithful but also those who had fallen away. The epistles of 1 & 2 Corinthians were written to a group that, I believe, still included some of the fallen away among their number. Additionally, Paul instructed Timothy to teach those who had swerved from the truth (ref. 1 Timothy 1:3-11), just as Paul himself did.
The Religiously Lost (Romans 9:1-3, 30-10:4):
(9:1-3; 10:1) – Paul’s had “great sorrow and unceasing anguish” in his heart because his fellow Jews, though they were very religious, were lost. So great was his anguish, he was willing to be cut-off from God, if it meant his fellow Jews would be saved. (10:1) – Paul’s heart-ache over the religiously lost Jews lead him to do two things. First, pray for them. Second, teach them whenever and wherever he could (Acts 9:20, 28; 13:14; 14:1; 16:13; 17:2, 10; 18:4; 19:10; 28:17). Paul’s first course of action whenever he came to a new town was to find the local synagogue and teach the Jews why Jesus was the Christ (ref. Acts 9:20; 17:1-3). There is no doubt, Paul had a heart for the lost. His constant plea was for others to follow his example (ref. 1 Corinthians 4:16; 11:1; Philippians 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:9). With that in mind, how then can you follow Paul’s example and have a heart for the lost?
How To Imitate Paul’s Heart For The Lost: