Do You Have A Burden?
1 I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,
2 That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.
3 For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:
4 Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;
5 Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.
Intro: Christopher Sercye was playing basketball with his friends on May 16, 1998 when he was shot in the chest, and a bullet perforated his aorta. His friends helped him get to within forty feet of the entrance to Ravenswood Hospital and then went inside and asked for help. The hospital staff refused to help Christopher saying that it was against the hospital’s policies to administer aid to those outside the hospital. Eventually a policeman was able to get a wheel chair and wheeled Christopher into the hospital where he was helped by the hospital staff. It was too late, however, and Christopher died about an hour later. Many times it seems that churches are surrounded by people that desperately need to hear the Gospel, yet Christians are content to share it only with those that manage to come inside their church.
Many people today are burdened down with a lot of things.
- Some are burdened by their problems.
- Some are burdened by their predicaments.
- Some are burdened by their lack of prosperity.
- Some are burdened by their pursuit of money
- Some are burdened by physical sickness and bad health
- But in this passage of Scripture, we find a man that had a burden for people.
Having a burden that exceeds you, your wants, your needs, your life is a testimony of selflessness.
Being moved to action by the plight of someone else is a sign of true Christianity.
In this passage, we see an extraordinary display of a man of God’s burden for the unsaved.
I. The Witness of Paul’s Burden – vs. 1
Some people talk about having a burden, but they really do not.
A burden for souls is impossible to hide.
A burden for souls will be evident.
You can’t profess to believe in soulwinning if you never do it.
You can’t pretend to be supportive of evangelism if you never show up for soulwinning.
You can’t talk about being a member of a soulwinning church if you are not a part of the soulwinning efforts.
Paul not only had a burden, but had the Holy Ghost as a witness of that burden.
A burden is not a figment of one’s imagination.
A burden is not just a word we use to sound spiritual.
A burden is not a catchphrase we throw around to raise money.
A burden is not just something missionaries say they have to get support.
A burden is real. Notice verse 2
Do you have a burden for souls?
Who knows it?
Who has seen it?
Who has been saved as a result of it?
Who has been motivated to have a greater burden for souls because of your burden?
ILLUSTRATION: A missionary to Africa told the story of an elderly woman who was reached with the gospel. Though she was blind and could neither read nor write, she wanted to share her new found faith with others. She went to the missionary and asked for a copy of the Bible in French. When she got it, she asked the missionary to underline John 3:16 in red and mark the page it was on so she could find it. The missionary wanted to see what she would do, so one day he followed her.
In the afternoon, just before school let out, she made her way to the front door. As the boys came out when school was dismissed, she would stop one and ask if he knew how to read French. When he said “Yes” she would ask him to read the verse that was marked in red. Then she would ask, “Do you know what this means?” and tell him about Christ.
The missionary said that twenty-four of the school boys that lady led to the Lord became pastors.
II. The Weight of Paul’s Burden – vs. 2
A. It was Heavy
Paul’s burden produced a heaviness.
That is where we get the word “burden”.
The concern for others produces a heaviness in one’s heart.
There wasn’t just a heaviness.
Paul called it a GREAT heaviness.
It was significant. Not just a nagging thought.
It was more than a back of the mind awareness.
It was very important to him.
ILLUSTRATION: D.L. Moody told the story of his conversion this way: “When I was in Boston I used to attend a Sunday school class, and one day I recollect my teacher came around behind the counter of the shop I was at work in, and put his hand upon my shoulder, and talked to me about Christ and my soul. I had not felt that I had a soul till then. I said to myself, ‘This is a very strange thing. Here is a man who never saw me till lately, and he is weeping over my sins, and I never shed a tear about them.’ But I understand it now, and know what it is to have a passion for men’s souls and weep over their sins. I don’t remember what he said, but I can still feel the power of that man’s hand on my shoulder tonight.”
The concern and tears of a godly teacher resulted in the conversion of a man who saw a million souls saved in his evangelistic campaigns.
B. It Hurt
Then he goes on to describe it as a sorrow.
SORROW: consuming grief, pain,
There was a sorrow.
His heart was broken. All the time.
It was always on his mind. He never stopped thinking about souls.
III. The Wish of Paul’s Burden – vs. 3
Paul’s burden produced a very specific wish.
Paul’s burden produced a wish that consisted of several key elements:
A. He Wished to be Accursed – wish that myself were accursed
He wished that he could go to hell in the place of his countrymen; his kinsmen.
He was so burdened that he was willing to spend eternity in hell for them to be saved.
ACCURSED: cursed or doomed to destruction
Paul knew that those that are not saved are doomed to an eternity in hell; separated from God.
The thought of that was a great heaviness and a continual sorrow to Paul.
Hell is a real place.
People that are not saved really go there.
And people that go there never get out.
ILLUSTRATION: Charles Peace, a notorious criminal in England, was executed on February 25, 1879. Just before his execution, an Anglican minister halfheartedly read to him from The Consolations of Religion: “Those who die without Christ experience hell, which is the pain of forever dying without the release which death itself can bring.”
Charles stopped the minister and said, “Sir, if I believed what you and the church of God say that you believe, even if England were covered with broken glass from coast to coast, I would walk over it, if need be, on hands and knees and think it worthwhile living, just to save one soul from an eternal hell like that!”
Paul was so burdened for others that he literally wished he could take their place in hell.
B. He Wished to be Abandoned – accursed from Christ
This is the man that said in:
Philippians 1:20, 21
- 20 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.
- 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
This is the man that said in:
- 7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
- 8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
- 9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
- 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
- 11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
- 12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
And yet here we find Paul willing to forfeit an eternity with Christ for others to be saved!
Paul’s passion for souls would be almost unbelievable if not for verse 1!
Do you have a burden for souls?
If so, what wish has your burden produced?
QUOTE: If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for.