Understanding God’s sovereignty in salvation in no way is meant to lead the Christian to be cold-hearted toward those who do not believe. Quite the opposite, in fact. After Romans 9, in which Paul outlines how God has predestined some for mercy and others for condemnation and then explains the Jews’ rejection of Jesus, he quickly adds:
Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. – Romans 10:1
In this verse, Paul models for us what should be our attitude and action toward those who do not believe.
1. Feel for them
Lest anyone think that Paul was coldly speaking of the Jews who rejected Jesus, Paul says, “Brothers, my heart’s desire . . . is that they may be saved.” Paul did not relish that many rejected Jesus and continued on in their hellbound race. In this way, he joined God in His own attitude, He who does not take pleasure in the way of the wicked but would rather they turn from their wicked ways and live (Ezekiel 18:23).
Similarly, we are to have a heart of compassion toward unbelievers. We should not be boastful in the fact that we have believed and they haven’t. First of all, it was only by God’s grace that we have believed, and secondly, love demands that we would want the best for our neighbor, and in this case, the undisputed best is a right relationship with God and an escape from His wrath. So, we are to feel for them, and secondly, we are to
2. Pray for them
Not only was it Paul’s desire, but it was also his “prayer to God for them that they may be saved”. Not only did Paul have compassion on unbelievers, but he also acted on that compassion. True love acts.
As we know from other places in Scripture, including some of the following verses, our evangelism is a means through which God calls His elect. But prayer is also a means through which God saves. So accordingly, Paul not only desires that unbelieving Jews would be saved but asks God to do it.
Do you pray for unbelievers? Do you have compassion on them, first of all, and does that compassion have feet? It’s not enough to pity a person, like the religious leaders in the parable of the Good Samaritan do, but if we have the means, we ought to help. And the means with which we help unbelievers are to proclaim the gospel to them and to pray. Now, of course, the ultimate decision is the Lord’s, but if He will save someone, He will do so through the means of our prayers and our preaching. So, may we pray for His grace on those whom we have compassion on.