I love Paul’s heart for the lost. His love for Jesus and his desire to obey and honor God in his calling is what sustained him through many difficulties, but also at play was the heart he had for those who were far away from Christ. Remember his words in Romans 11, where he could “wish himself accursed” if only his people, the Jews, would come to faith?
We see his heart in Philippians as well, as he encourages us to imitate the compassion of Jesus in our concern for others.
Philippians 2:1-5 – Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus …
Those verses go on to describe the ultimate sacrifice Jesus made, surrendering to the will of God even to death in order to purchase our redemption.
Jesus, Himself used the parable of the lost sheep to illustrate how He felt about those who wander away from the faith (Luke 15:1-7). This is the same attitude we should have – a willingness to seek the lost, and encourage them to find the forgiveness of the Good Shepherd. Some are lost who are indeed part of God’s flock; they have gone astray in pursuit of lesser things and perhaps, have yet to recognize how far away they are and the dangers that surround them. Others are lost who have not yet come into the fold, but in God’s sovereignty, He sees them as the believers they will be.
Below is a little poem my mom wrote. When she called and read it to me over the phone, we were both thinking of the lost sheep we know. It motivates me to pray more and be more passionate about those we love who are wandering in the wilderness of this world. I encourage you to put your lost sheep in mind as you read it, and may we all develop the encouragement, affection, and compassion of Jesus, having the same mind, not looking out for our own interests, but for the interests of others.
THE LOST LAMB
The Shepherd had tended the sheep all day;
And now, it was time to sleep. But he said,
“Before I retire, I’ll check again on my sheep.”
So he went to the fold and looked around,
But when he counted, there was one, not found.
He said, “I know there were a hundred sheep of mine,
But I can only count ninety-nine.”
He was tired and weary from working all day
But he knew he couldn’t let one go astray.
So he sought for a light to help him see,
Said, “I can’t lose this sheep – it belongs to me!”
He retraced the places they had been that day,
He searched the meadow where they had romped and played.
But he searched in vain, there was no sheep there;
He said, “Where can he be? I’ve looked everywhere.”
He said, “I won’t give up till he is safe in the fold,
I love this lamb more than silver and gold.”
Just when he thought it was of no avail,
He heard a tiny cry, and a very faint wail.
Caught in the thicket of briars and thorns,
His little lamb was there, scared and forlorn.
Resting high on his shoulder, the little lamb rode,
The shepherd never thinking of the weight of his load.
But all the way home he rejoiced in song,
Forgiving the lamb for all he’d done wrong.
Our Great Shepherd, Jesus, God’s Son
Will never give up on one of His own.
When we wander off, and go astray;
He seeks us and calls us, to come back to His way.
–Judy Proffitt (May 2022)
Philippians 3:18 – For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ.
Romans 5:10 – For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
Ephesians 2:12 – Remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.