by Kevin Burton
The kid thing, the desire to have and raise children, is something I never, never got and don’t get.
So when we look into a demand by Rachel, wife of Jacob, in Genesis chapter 30, for me it’s a study in polar opposites.
“Give me children or else I die,” Rachel said.
You would never hear me utter those words.
Rachel’s extreme desire to have children is a worthy study on its own, as is perhaps to a much lesser extent, my desire not to have them.
I bring this up today to present a point about spiritual children made earlier this month by Alistair Begg, speaker on the Truth For Life radio ministry.
“The cry of Rachel for physical children should be more than matched by the believer’s longing for spiritual children,” Begg writes. “Our great object in living is to glorify God, and we mainly achieve this end by the winning of souls.”
“If we do not win souls, we should mourn as the farmer who sees no harvest, as the fisherman who returns to his cottage with an empty net, or as the hunter who has roamed in vain over hill and dale.”
Begg also points to the Apostle Paul as an example of zeal for soul winning.
“Paul’s great object was not merely to instruct and to improve, but to save. Anything short of this would have disappointed him; he desired to see men renewed in heart, forgiven, sanctified, in fact saved.”
“Have our Christian efforts been aimed at anything below this great objective? Then let us correct our ways, for what good will it be at the last great day to have taught and moralized men if they appear before God unsaved?”
If we’re talking physical children, having or not having them, surely we speak of different strokes for different folks. Of spiritual children, Begg reminds us that, “If through life we have sought inferior objects and forgotten that men needed to be saved, then we will be held accountable.”
I have never forgotten completely that men needed to be saved. How could you? But that fact is much lower on my priority list, as I live out a comfortable Christian existence day to day, than Jesus would have it to be.
Christian friend, how are you doing in producing spiritual children?
I have often cringed at the thought of becoming the kind of a Christian who knows everything about Dietrich Bonhoeffer and nothing about his next-door neighbor. Worse, I’ve turned into someone who doesn’t know much about either.
I don’t believe it’s too out of context here to quote James 1:5 (NKJV) “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
Substitute zeal for wisdom here (if you think about it, are they really that different?) and you have the beginnings of a solution for people such as me, who need to be much more active in God’s cause.
Go to the Source, pray to God. He wants you to spread His word. Ask Him for the desire, if it isn’t there, and the wherewithal.
From there, we have Paul as an example:
“Paul knew the ruin of man’s natural state and did not try to educate him, but to save him; he saw men sinking to hell and did not talk of refining them, but of saving from the wrath to come,” Begg writes.
“To accomplish their salvation, he gave himself up with untiring zeal to spreading the Gospel, to warning and beseeching men to be reconciled to God. His prayers were persistent and his labors incessant. His consuming passion, his ambition, his calling was to save souls.”
“He became a servant to all men, working for them, feeling a woe within him if he did not preach the Gospel. He laid aside his preferences to prevent prejudice; he submitted his will in things indifferent, and if men would just receive the Gospel, he raised no questions about forms or ceremonies.”
“The Gospel was the one all-important business with him. If he might save some, he would be content. This was the crown for which he extended himself, the sole and sufficient reward of all his labors and self-denials,” Begg writes.
“Dear reader, have you and I lived to win souls to this extent? Are we possessed with the same all-absorbing desire? If not, why not?”
“Jesus died for sinners. Can we not live for them?”