“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you– that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. I am under obligation both to the Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.” (Romans 1:8-15 ESV)
Have you ever had a chance to sit down with a parent and hear their heart? To hear what motivates them, what brings light to their eyes, why they get up in the morning, and what they think about when they lay their heads on their pillows? Or if not a parent, maybe a pastor or leader your respect?
Here Paul shows his heart. He opens the curtains of his life to reveal what is making his heart pump. Simply put, it is people. Paul’s desire is to bring God’s love and truth, God’s saving work to every person he can. Why? Because he cares for them.
Do you hear it in this passage? He mentions them always in prayer, he longs to see them, he desires to impart spiritual gifts to them. He wants to see them strengthened and encouraged. He is eager for the opportunity.
I’ve come to realize that what you truly feel about people changes the way you approach them. If you feel they are dangerous you avoid them. If you feel they are dimwitted you patronize them. If you feel they are a waste of time you ignore them. If you feel they are untrustworthy you work alone.
But Jesus and Paul had a heart that was for others. They had no reason to trust anyone. In fact they had plenty of reason to write off humanity as a lost cause. Yet they stubbornly held to a belief that people were worth their time. They were willing to experience pain to experience suffering if it would benefit others. Why?
Working backwards we understand that they obviously felt people were worth it. They believed that humans were worth loving. They saw that there is a dignity to humanity as we are all made in God’s image. They felt love towards others, and desired for them the best. Paul felt that us humans should be treated the way he wanted to be treated. That is the very heart of Jesus’ famous “Golden Rule.”
Paul was definitely a people oriented person, because God is people oriented. How about us? What is our motivation? To get through the day? To succeed in our jobs? To have fun? What about the people around you? Are they your motivation or annoyance? Because how you feel about people effects how you interact with them.