We shed tears watching emotional movies. We’re sorrowful when we see a dog stranded on the streets. But do we have a heart heavily burdened with empathy for the lost?
January 26, 2021
I was watching a TV program recently that looked at keys that unlocked the success of millionaires. I don’t have any desire to be a millionaire, but I do have a desire to learn about keys and principles that can help me to be more effective in reaching the lost.
The first super-rich gentleman was a clothing manufacturer who had made a fast fortune by having his line of clothes made in America. That is unique nowadays. Why not have them made in China like everyone else? He said that speed was an ingredient that made it work. He didn’t have to wait for months to have a new design on the market. He could conceive it in one day, manufacture it the next, and then get it to the market.
What was the real key to attaining his wealth? His answer was one word—“Fashion.” I took a mental note. Fashion. Interesting. I could see what he was saying. Stay up on what was fashionable. Very interesting.
A few minutes later he talked further about the word. It was then that I found out that he hadn’t said “fashion” at all, but “passion.” Duh. He said that the, “key to success was to be passionate about your work.” I felt a little dumb, a feeling to which I have become accustomed.
A Dim-Wit’s Success
The next day I broke the belt clip on my cell phone and so I decided I would fix it with glue. Superglue loves me! This I know, because whenever I go near the glue, it jumps out of the tube with great glee and leaps onto my skin. I must have run to water in panic more than a dozen times over the years.
This time was no different. As I was applying the sticky stuff, a drip from the tube latched onto my finger. I put the phone down and quickly ran to the bathroom and was able to get it off before it hardened.
Then I returned, carefully picked up the phone and couldn’t believe that a bigger drip had invisibly made its way around to the back of the phone and was now all over my thumb. I panicked, dropped the phone and ran back to the bathroom. This time the evil substance had time to harden, and the water didn’t do its work. I now had a familiar, hard crust on my thumb.
I made my way back to the phone which by now had stuck to the carpet. I was beginning to resent the inventor of the glue. There was nothing “super” about it. I had “fixed” and then snapped my cell phone clip so many times—there was enough layers of old residue for an evolutionist to think it was millions of years old.
After I pulled the phone off of the carpet, I found that it was glued shut. I couldn’t even open it to make a call! It was time to stop what I was doing, and feel dumb once again.
Hardly a day goes by when I don’t qualify for a “dim-wit” award. In the week prior to this I managed to break a light bulb in our radio studio. I blamed gravity. I was also able to cover myself in blood while I was doing some very simple carpentry at home. Nothing new there. Whenever I get a hammer in my hand, Sue gets a Band-Aid in hers.
Dumb though I am, I have discovered the key to success. I do have passion. I have a burning, passionate love for God and for the lost, and it won’t go away. Where does that sort of driving passion come from? If you need to ask that question, then you no doubt lack it.
The Key to Passion
Think of the thief on the cross for a moment. Like the rest of us, he wasn’t exactly wise in his life of sin. He thought that he could transgress God’s Law and get away with it. He didn’t. He had stolen, and as a result found himself in the unenviable position of being nailed to a Roman cross for his crime (see Luke 23:39-42).
But notice in the text how he suddenly accepted his fate when he said to the other criminal: “Don’t you fear God, seeing you are in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man has done nothing amiss.” I don’t think that he was saying that the Romans had justly punished him (he was being executed for theft!). I think that when he said that he deserved to die, he was referring to a Higher Court. He suddenly saw that his sin against God had made him worthy of death.
The same God who was his just executioner, mercifully provided a suffering Savior. This dying rebel acknowledged his sins, trusted Jesus of Nazareth and passed from death to life in a heartbeat. And there is the key to passion.
We have also been crucified with Christ. Like the thief, we too have seen the wrath of the divine Law and our multiple breaches of it. We have understood that we justly deserve death. But then we saw light in the darkest of places. We saw Jesus on the cross, and whispered, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom!” It was at the cross that we found that mercy flowed like a river. It was there that we found the relief of free grace. That is what gives us endless passion.
Do You Have Passion?
Holy Scripture records only a few sentences from the thief as he hung on the cross. His feet didn’t take him anywhere to share his faith in Christ. He didn’t reach out his hands to the unsaved. He couldn’t. Perhaps he didn’t even say another word until he breathed his last. But his testimony of justification by faith in Jesus has been read by and encouraged countless millions.
Have you seen your sin in the light of God’s Law? Have you cried, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom”? Seeing our sin opens our eyes to see the Savior. Knowledge of the Law precedes the knowledge of mercy. If you have seen Jesus evidently set forth and crucified, then you will have the evidence of passion.
You are not pinned to a Roman cross in unspeakable agony. You can speak to the lost. Your legs have not been broken by cruel Roman guards. Your feet can carry you to the unsaved. Your hands are free to pass a sinner a gospel tract.
In his agony, no doubt that thief kept his eyes on Jesus. Faith in the Savior was his only hope. And no doubt he listened to the words that came from the parched lips of the Son of God. Do the same. Keep your eyes on Jesus. The pains of this life may at times distract you, but He is your only hope. So trust Him with all your heart. And amidst the sound and confusion of this sinful world, make sure you listen to His voice. The officers were correct when they said: “Never a man spoke like this Man.” His precious words echo through time and remind us of our obligation—“Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.”