Ask God to orient or reorient you to Himself. Confess any known sin. Thank Him for His forgiveness. Be still and reflect on Jesus and His sacrifice for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to God’s Word. Pray for others in your life that they, too, would know and love God today.
1 I speak the truth in Christ— I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit— 2 I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, 4 the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. 5 Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.
In these verses we see Paul’s sorrow over Israel’s condition. With absolute sincerity, Paul is speaking the truth—he is speaking as a Christian who is enlightened by the Holy Spirit. He emphasizes the truth by saying: I’m not lying. It’s like he’s being emphatic with his words. All of his being at its deepest level attest to the truth he saying. He is speaking as honestly as he can—he wants his readers to know he’s not exaggerating about his emotions.
And what is it that he is saying? It’s his own people that he is concerned about, so much so, that it has caused unceasing anguish in his heart. In fact, don’t read over verse 2 too quickly. “Great sorrow and unceasing anguish” are some strong words that we can read over and miss if we don’t think about them for a bit. Together they communicate unhappiness, grief, regret, the kind of emotions that cause pain, distress, and intense anxiety—this is the depth to Paul’s emotions that he is communicating here to us. I think it is important that we keep this in mind as we work through the passage—this isn’t a passing, ‘Oh I with that hadn’t had happened kind of a feeling’ it was a deep intense gut-level sorrow.
Why would he say this? He doesn’t really say, but from the context of the section we can say it was probably because many would have been questioning Paul’s Gospel. If this were the long awaited Jewish Messiah, as Paul proclaimed, why would only a hand full of Jews accept it, while most rejected the Gospel? Why would he turn to Gentiles who were more than eager to accept the Gospel? Some – who questioned Paul – would have seen him, as a traitor to his own people, a turncoat and a renegade as far as Israel was concerned.
But this is the furthest thing from the truth—you can sense Paul’s deep devotion to his own Jewish people in the solemn oath he makes when he says, “I speak the truth…I’m not lying… my conscience confirms it.” Think about a time when you’ve had a strong conviction about something, a time when all you could say to someone was, “I’m not lying!” We say this kind of thing when we’re at a lost for words—when we want someone to hear us in our truthfulness. Obviously When Paul thinks first of Israel’s glorious calling, and now of its rejection by God because it rejected the Messiah, his heart is filled with great sorrow and continual grief.
I think we can relate to Paul in his concern for his own people. I know in my own life I have family members and friends who have rejected to Gospel. No amount of my own effort could change the fact that they’ve rejected Christ. Especially if it is someone close to you—it’s with these folks that we can feel the same pain Paul had in his heart. I can remember countless times Patty would pore her heart out to me about her Dad—she longed for him to come to faith. I thought of the many times in tears her heart had broken for her father. My heart broke for her. This is what I’m thinking when I think about Paul’s anguish.
So what do we do with this? I think we continue to pray for the lost, the ones God has placed on our hearts. We remember that it’s not over until they take their last breath. In Patty’s case she prayed almost daily for nearly forty years, and in her fifties, has her dad was coming to end of his days here on this earth, he gave his life to Christ.
Yes, I think the application for us is to lean into the pain and anguish we have for those who don’t know Christ and faithfully share the Gospel with them as we have opportunity, lifting them up in prayer, knowing that it is the Holy Spirit that draws them to Himself.
*From what you have just read and considered, what is a personal implication/application for your life today?
(Personalize this prayer today; make it specific to the circumstances that face you.)
Ask God to lead you through His Spirit as you go through your day. Ask Him to bring to mind the truth of the Gospel and its implications for what you will encounter today. Tell Him “Yes” to His will and ask Him for His power and protection to live out this “yes.” Ask God to create and reveal opportunities to proclaim the Good News today. KEEP PRAYING THROUGHOUT YOUR DAY.
Inspiration and insight for the devotionals came from the following books: Reading Romans with John Stott; The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World (The Bible Speaks Today Series), Stott, John; Romans (The NIV Application Commentary Book 6) Moo, Douglas J.; Encountering the Book of Romans: A Theological Survey (Encountering Biblical Studies) Moo, Douglas J.; Believers Bible Commentary; The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, with the New International Version, Romans through Galatians; NIV Application Study Bible. The Cambridge Bible Commentary, Romans, Best, Ernest.