Do we long to see sinners saved?
If our study of God’s Word isn’t producing a deep longing for people to know Christ, we’re doing it wrong. If you are growing in your knowledge of Christ’s love, you will be learning to love as Christ loved.
I love how Spurgeon illustrates this.
“He asks us to imagine standing on a hill with Jerusalem below us. And, Jerusalem is to be destroyed by the Romans; the decree has gone forth that its sin must be punished.
Now, here is a brother who holds very high doctrines in his head, but who has not much sympathy in his heart.
Come up here, brother.
Do you see that city there? That is all to be destroyed! Do you see its streets? They are all to be crimsoned with blood! Do you see its temple? Not one stone of it is to be left upon another! What do you think of it? “Well,” says he, “if they are to be saved they will be saved; if it is in the purpose and the decree it will be so. I am sure I am very sorry if they should not be, but I do not see that it is any particular business of mine; the Lord will have his own , and it will all be well.”
Get down, sir!
What do you know about the love of Christ? Nothing! Give such a man as you that text, “He beheld the city and wept over it,” and you would not know how to preach from it, for you do not know the Saviour’s heart, and have not known his love.
But bring hither another man; he holds the same doctrinal truths, but he looks down on the city, and what does he say?
“Oh, fain my pity would reclaim
And snatch the fire-brands from the flame.”
Lord, what must I do? Give me anything to do for them! My heart’s desire and prayer for them is that they may be saved; and the tears begin to flow, and when he turns to the book and reads that Jesus beheld the city and wept over it, and said, “If thou at least in this thy day had known the things which belong unto thy peace,” he says, “Well, I do not know how to explain that to my doctrinal friend; I do not know how to make these feelings quite square and tally with the doctrine; but somehow or other I know there is no disagreement, for I feel the one is true, and I also feel the sympathy in my heart; I know that God will have his own, but I hope he will have them through my instrumentality; I believe that his chosen will be brought in, but, O that it may be my happy lot to bring in some of them to the praise and the glory of his grace!”
“Why,” some professors say, “I am not my brother’s keeper.” No, but if you are not, I tell you what are— you are your brother’s killer! You are one of the two.
If you say you are not your brother’s keeper, rest assured that you are a Cain, and that you will be your brother’s murderer, for we either do good or hate. It is impossible for us to be devoid of influence. If the rill runs through the meads it makes them fertile; if you dam it up and make it stagnant, you have not destroyed its influence. Ah, no, you have only changed it into a foetid pool and its influence shall curse the valley with disease. So with a good man, if he serves his Master, he is scattering mercy abroad; but let him, if it were possible for him to do so, let him cease to serve the Lord and become idle, and then he scatters miasma, plague, and death.
Oh, do we know the love of Christ by feeling it in our own hearts? There are some of us who can say that we have felt that we could do anything for souls. When we have heard it said of the Master, “He saved others, himself he cannot save,” we have felt that we would not spare ourselves if God would only spare them; and when Paul said he could wish himself accursed from Christ for his brethren, while commentators have been spelling that over, and cannot make it out, we have had sympathy with it , and have been able to say, “We have felt the same;” we have felt that we could even be lost to save others, and we have said, “Let my name perish; let me be forgotten if my congregation may only be saved; if my children may be blessed; if my hearers may be converted to God.” Men in this state know Christ’s love after a wonderful and marvellous sort.
May God teach you each this way. May he help you to weep like Christ, to work like Christ, ay, and to be ready to die like Christ, if it were needful by such means to bring sinners to their Saviour and their Lord. O that we could get here! I know my dear brother, the pastor of this Church, would desire nothing more for you than that you might know Christ’s love by feeling it in your hearts. O that Christ would come and look out of these eyes, and weep down these cheeks! O that he would speak through these lips, till it should not be the old self, man, that thought, and spoke, and acted, but the new-born Spirit of the Lord Jesus that had come into us and possessed us with a higher and a nobler life, that we might spend and be spent for him.”