The Apostle Paul had a great passion for souls, stating in Romans 9:1-3 —“I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.”
The men and women who have made the greatest impact throughout church history—had this same zeal to see those lost in sin come to Christ and find the forgiveness of God. They were people who spent much time on there knees pleading for souls. THEY HAD A BURDEN FOR UNBELIEVERS!
How can we develop this type of a burden for souls? Let me suggest three steps toward such.
1. PONDER- Look In & Get In Touch With Yourself
In John 4 Jesus goes into an area where the Jews would not go. Samaria was not valued in the mind of a respectable Jew especially the Samaritan women at the well who had been with 7 men. Yet Jesus goes out of His way to talk with her and lead her to saving faith. His disciples were puzzled why he would do such a thing. Jesus was not only wanting to lead this dear women to saving faith but He wanted the disciples to gain the same burden He had for lost souls. He led each of them to see that they lacked a burden for down and out sinners and that the first thing they needed to do to gain a burden was to see they did not have a burden. The first step they needed to take was to look deep within and admit they really did not care about this women. They needed to acknowledge their need for a burden for souls.
2. PRAYER— Look Up & Get In Touch With God
The second step to developing a burden for souls is prayer. Effective evangelism always must include prayer. When you spend quality time with Jesus, His burden will become your burden and His priorities will become your priorities. Jesus proclaimed His purpose for coming to the earth in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Jesus purpose for coming to earth was all about people, and the more we are in connection with Him the more we will become like Him get to Him. As we spend time with Jesus His passion for souls will become ours as well. His purpose will become the driving force in our life.
Peter and John's boldness in sharing their faith came from spending time with Jesus, Acts 4:13 “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” Intimacy with Jesus develops within God’s children a passion for souls and the boldness to share our faith with them.
John Hyde, a dedicated missionary to India in the 1800s would pray for millions of lost souls daily. With tears he would pray, " Give me souls, oh God, or I die!" This is the burden that each of us need to win souls to Christ.
3. Presence—Look Out & Get In Touch With People
The third step to developing a burden for souls is presence. You must seek to get in the presence of unbelievers, how close you are to them geographically and relationally will determine how much a burden you will develop for them. Personal contact will move you with compassion, Matthew 9 teaches us that as Jesus lifted His eyes up upon the fields that were white unto harvest that He gained compassion for the souls in the harvest. We gain influence in relationships which develop into friendship. In order to develop a meaningful relationship that serves as the springboard for sharing your faith with people, you have to be in their presence as you earn their trust. As we personally experience the great burdens of those trapped in sin we will gain the God given burden it takes to share the gospel earnestly for those He loves!
Terry has been the Senior Pastor of Liberty for 30 years. He and his wife, Karen, have 4 children, 11 grandchildren, and 1 spoiled dog named Cooper.