The Second Greatest Commandment
Loving the Unlovely – Part VII
Scripture Reading: Luke 15:1-7 (NLT)
Key Verses: Luke 15:1-2 (NLT) Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that He was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!
People sometimes accept that after a few years of living the Christian life, we lose contact with unbelievers that we once spent time with. This is a stress point in the life of some believers, especially if they go to an evangelical church.
We in the evangelical movement believe strongly in reaching lost people as well as feeding the flock of believers. Our Key Verse is the foundation for this belief.
Jesus spent time with “notorious sinners”. If Jesus loved the unlovely and spent time helping them understand God’s love for them, then we should do the same.
Yet we also feel a need to warn new believers not to stay so close to their unbelieving friends that they drift back into their old lifestyles. When they heed that warning, they lose contact with the very ones that also need to be saved. This can be a dilemma for new believers!
One of the answers to this problem is for more mature believers to help new believers find ways to move their unbelieving friends closer to the God that loves them.
We must keep reviewing the way Jesus reached “sinners”. Jesus spent time with them and ate with them. In other words, Jesus understood the truth that compassion is different from compromise.
The problem with too many “mature” believers is that they struggle to understand the difference between showing compassion to a sinner and compromising the lifestyle standards taught in the Scriptures. It is not only possible but essential for us to show great compassion for people that are far from God and still keep our lifestyle standards. To do this, we must find ways not to drift too far from unbelievers after we come to Jesus.
One way I have dealt with this problem is to keep a prayer list with all the unbelieving people I have had some level of friendship. Knowing how much God cares for lost people helps me pray with confidence for these on my list, no matter how far from God they are.
Let me remind you of two key truths that we must keep in mind while we pray for the unbelievers around us. First, let’s remind ourselves that the very reason Jesus came to earth in the first place was to reach lost people. Second, never forget 2 Peter 3:9c (NLT):
…He does not want anyone to be destroyed but wants everyone to repent.
These two truths remind us that God loves everyone and wants everyone to spend eternity with Him.
As you pray for loved ones and friends that are lost, thank God for these truths!
Father, thank You for sending Jesus as Savior of the World. In Jesus’s Name, amen.