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. (ESV)
As we begin to look at Chapter 9 of the Book of Romans we approach it with sobriety. This is a chapter that has caused many people to be confused. The overall theme of this Chapter is the unbelief of the people of Israel. As Paul has made clear in the previous 8 chapters of Romans salvation is by grace through faith. Works of the Law will save no one.
In this part of Paul's letter to the church at Rome he is very vulnerable. He talks about great sorrow that he has and unceasing anguish in his heart. Lest one were to question just how sincere he was in speaking of his sorrow he prefaces that remark by saying that he is speaking the truth in Christ. He is not lying. His conscience bears witness in the Holy Spirit. This is serious what Paul is talking about.
Before we look in greater detail at what causes Paul's sorrow, the unbelief of his fellow Jews, let's consider something for a moment. Paul's response ought to be a model for all of us in the faith. Every single one of us knows someone in our family, in our circle of friends, or even in our neighborhood who is bound in unbelief. Does their unbelief cause this great anguish like it did for Paul?
The Gospel that the Apostle Paul preached would ultimately cost him his very life. He would later be beheaded in Rome. To tell Jews, who had followed the Law for their whole lives, that they had to place their faith in Jesus Christ was beyond radical. Paul did not tell them for any other reason but that he loved them with all of his heart.
I want you to consider those whom you know. Your co-workers, neighbors, and family members all need to know the love of Jesus Christ. Ask the Lord to give you a love for their souls that would create anguish in your heart as you consider the possibility of them staying in their unbelief.