A Heart For The Lost

Duane Vander Klok

Do you have a desire to see the people in your life get saved? God does! 1 Timothy 2:3-4 tells us that He “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” As a believer, you can share His heart for the lost and have a part in the salvation of those around you!

Jesus said, “ For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). He also shared three parables in the Bible that talk about God’s heart for that which is lost.

Lost Things
The first parable (Luke 15:4-6) tells of a shepherd who had a hundred sheep. When one of them strayed away, the shepherd left the ninety nine to search for him. Once he found the lost sheep, he carried him back to the flock. Upon returning home, he invited others to celebrate with him at finding the one who had been lost, but now was found.

The next parable (Luke 15:8-10) is about a woman who had ten coins. When one of the coins was missing, Luke tells us that she turned on a light and tore her house apart looking for it. When she found it, she gathered her friends and neighbors to rejoice with her.

In the third parable (Luke 15:11-24), the story of the prodigal son, one of a man’s sons decided to take his inheritance and leave home. He quickly spent all he had on wrong living and ended up eating with the pigs. After a while, he came to his senses and realized how much better his life had been with his father. He headed back home, and when his father saw him coming a long way off, he ran out to meet him. He could not contain the joy of his son’s homecoming, and he spared no expense in throwing a big party to let everyone share in his happiness.

God’s Heart
These three parables tell us a lot about God’s heart for the lost. To God:

  • What is lost is valuable. No one would waste time searching for something that had no value. In these parables, though each lost item was different, each had value in the eyes of the one doing the searching. The shepherd could have thought, “It’s just one little sheep. I have ninety nine others, so what does it matter if one is missing?” Instead, we see that each individual sheep was valuable to him.
  • There is a sense of urgency. In each parable, there was a sense of urgency in finding what was lost. There was no waiting until tomorrow to see if the lost coin might show up somewhere. Likewise, the father of the prodigal was eagerly awaiting his son’s return. Jesus said, “While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him” (Luke 15:20). This paints a picture of a loving, forgiving father who is constantly scanning the horizon, looking for any sign of his homecoming.
  • A celebration is coming. Each time when the lost had been found, there was a celebration. The woman did not nonchalantly put the coin back with the others, turn the light out and go to sleep. The shepherd did not angrily chase the wayward sheep all the way back to the flock. The father did not say, “Why should I let you come back home after what you’ve done?” No! In each case, there was rejoicing and celebration because what was once lost had been found.

In Luke 15:7, Jesus said, “…there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine ]just persons who need no repentance.” Just as the woman who found the coin was happy, Jesus said (Luke 15:10) , “…there is joy in the presence of the angels over one sinner who repents.”

When it comes to people who have not yet received Jesus Christ, the Bible is clear. 2 Peter 3:9 says, “…The Lord is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance, and 1 Timothy 2:4 makes it clear that God “…desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” That is His heart for your unsaved friends, neighbors and family members.

Salvation is a gift that God freely offers, but each individual must make the choice to receive it. You could think of it as an election: God gets one vote, the devil gets one vote and the person gets one vote. God’s vote is for them. The devil’s vote is against them. That leaves the deciding vote up to the individual.

What Can You Do?

While no one can make decisions for their unsaved friends, neighbors and family members, there is definitely something you can do. God can use you to make a difference in their eternal destinies. You can:

  • Develop God’s heart for them. That means you should recognize their value the way God does and have a sense of urgency that keeps you from giving up on them. You can share your testimony, and as you see the people in your life turning toward God in little things, you can be one of the first ones there to cheer them on!
  • Pray. You can pray that God will send people into their lives to show them His love. You can also pray that their eyes will be opened so they can see and know God and receive all He has for them (Ephesians 1:16-19).
  • Check your attitude. It is easy to become negative when the people we care about are slow to change. Condemning attitudes or an expressed lack of faith on our part can hinder their progress. A positive attitude will reflect your expectation that they are going to turn to God.
  • Live a life that reflects who God is to you. Our actions generally speak louder than our words. Even though our friends – and especially our families – have seen our faults, how we live our lives is still often the best form of evangelism. Here are some examples from scripture:
    • Women may win their husbands to the Lord by their behavior. (1 Peter 3:1-2)
    • Husbands can serve their wives sacrificially, showing them Christ’s love. (Ephesians 5:25-28)
    • Parents can encourage their children to come to the Lord by not provoking them. Spending time with them, giving them personal attention, and loving them affectionately. When they know you really listen to them, they will be more likely to receive godly instruction and discipline from you. (Ephesians 6:4)
    • Children can influence their parents to the Lord by honoring and obeying them. (Ephesians 6:1-2).
    • Any one of us can influence others simply by living right. Matthew 5:13-16 talks about us being salt and light in the world and ends by saying, “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
  • Put faith into words. Our friends and relatives often do not respond well to our preaching or constantly telling them what God says. But, 1 Peter 3:15 (TLB) tells us, “…if anybody asks why you believe as you do, be ready to tell him, and do it in a gentle and respectful way.”

Your attitude and actions can make people thirsty for God, and the example of a consistent Christian life makes God hard to resist. We should, as St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.”

Be encouraged to know that God wants to see your loved ones saved even more than you do. He doesn’t want any of them to perish, and He has put you in their lives to help them find their way to Him. As you develop more of God’s heart for them, pray for them, maintain a positive expectation and live a consistent life of faith, God can use you to make a difference in their lives!

(All scriptures are from the New King James Version of the Bible unless otherwise stated.)

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