Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Are you a beggar?

I have some experience in begging. In college, Christy and I had another friend that we would do things with that was at least as crazy as I was. We were on a college meal plan that limited what we could get for our weekend evening meals. So one weekend evening we had a craving for tacos and no money to get them. [CORRECTION: I shared this blog with our college friend and she thought it was pizza that we wanted to get, so I'll trust her memory on that point more than mine.] We decided to hit up every person we saw for some food funds. Our friend would feign starvation and I would passionately plea with my fellow classmates to spare whatever change they could to aid my starving friend. I think Christy stood off to the side pretending she didn't know us during that time.

One fellow student, in his desire to show Christ's love (it was a Christian college), offered us his credit card. As a side note, that dear brother in Christ also literally offered me the shirt off his back on another occasion. I had commented that I liked his shirt and he asked me if I wanted it. He was ready to take it off and give it to me at that very moment. I didn't take his shirt then, in case your wondering, and we didn't take his credit card in this instance. We were honing in on the pocket change market rather than credit cards.

So I'm an experienced beggar, not only from my college days but also as a child. Numerous pleas to my parents consisted of begging. "Please, please, please Mom and Dad, let me go to my friend's house for the weekend?" If you're a parent, I imagine you've heard a little begging from your children as well.

The apostle Paul was a beggar. Did you know that? Not in the way I've described above, but a beggar on behalf of Christ. Listen to what Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers in 2 Corinthians 5:20, "Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." NASB

Did you notice that last phrase? "We beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." The Greek term for 'beg' is used by a father begging Jesus to heal his sick son. It is used by leper begging Jesus to cleanse him. It is even used by the demons begging Jesus not to torture them. In 2 Corinthians 5:20, Paul invokes the term to describe his passionate plea for an estranged and antagonist humanity to find a restored relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. Paul begs sinners to be saved through faith in Christ Jesus.

That thought convicted me. Have I ever begged someone to turn from their sins and trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior? I have shared the gospel with a number of people over the years, but I don't know if I've ever begged someone to trust in Christ. The idea seems odd and maybe even seems wrong to us in some ways, but it reveals Paul's heart. He understand in the core of his being the grave situation of fallen humanity. Without Jesus Christ, a person has no hope or future. Such a person can only anticipate God's judgment. That reality drove Paul and burdened him to such a degree that he would willingly beg someone to be reconciled to God through faith in Christ. The urgency of the times drove Paul to begging the lost to come to Christ, if that's what it took.

Am I a beggar? Well I did manage to successfully beg enough money to go out to eat that night I referred to earlier. So, maybe you could say I was a successful beggar in one sense. However, in the matter of passionately urging (begging) the lost to be saved, I tragically don't believe I am a beggar. I have shared the gospel many times, but I fear I lack the heart Paul had when he wrote those words, "I beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God."

How about you? Are you a beggar on behalf of Christ?

"LORD, let Your heart for the lost burn in my heart. Give me eyes to see humanity as you see them and the tragic reality of their situation. Embolden me by Your Holy Spirit to share Jesus with unbelievers in humility and love. Make me a beggar on Your behalf! In Jesus' precious and holy name. Amen."

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