I am speaking the truth in Christ —I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit — that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh
This one of the most striking statements in the whole of Scripture, that Paul would willingly choose the loss of his own soul to hell rather than see his kinsmen suffer there.
What radical love!
We might honestly say that we would suffer terrible pain, even death, that loved ones might come to know the love of Christ.
But who of us would be willing to go this far? Can you fathom even venturing to think this, let alone proclaim it openly?
I have a hard time getting there. I know what hell is like: the unfiltered presence of the full weight of God’s righteous wrath without the mediating grace of His Son. And I know what heaven is like: the eternal presence of the perfect joy and relational love of our Triune God.
But Paul knew this better than anyone, which is exactly why he could make such a bold and shocking statement. It was his knowledge of eternity combined with his love for his kinsmen that compelled him toward this incredible conviction.
This challenges me in two ways:
1. To go deeper into the glorious reality of heaven and the awful reality of hell. To keep my mind firmly on things that are above. A lifestyle that keeps eternity in view is of greatest use to the dark world we inhabit. It offers real hope for today and for tomorrow. This is found nowhere else.
2. To earnestly pray for Christ-like love to be made manifest in my heart. Too often I am ashamed of my coldness toward others, a trait that my Savior did not share. This love that Paul displays, on the other hand, is a vivid picture of what Christ did for us, suffered under God’s wrath, becoming a curse for us, so that we who we’re cursed might feast in the glory and grace of God forever.