Romans 11:11 (NIV) Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.
Occasionally you will meet people who say they used to follow Jesus but do so no longer. Some of these people may have been Christians earlier than you. They may even have played a part in your coming to faith. But for whatever reason, they have stopped following Jesus. What should your attitude be towards such people?
Paul answers that question in Romans 11:11-24.
First, don't be arrogant. Don't say, "well, obviously the fact that they left and I'm still here shows that I'm better than them." Paul says in verse 18, "do not consider yourself superior to them". Later in verse 20 he says, "Do not be arrogant, but tremble."
Instead of looking down on those who have left the faith, have a humble attitude, recognizing that more than anything it is God's grace that allows you to stand with Him by faith to this day. "Tremble" by recognizing that if it were not for God's grace, we could have fallen away as well. Let's keep depending on the Holy Spirit and be careful not to make the same mistakes others may have made.
Second, don't be discouraged. Don't think, "If those people fell away, maybe it's just a matter of time before I do as well." God's grace is stronger than our weakness. He will do everything in His power to hang on to you and to keep you rooted and growing in Him. As Paul alludes to verse 23, it takes a persistent unbelief in God, an ongoing rejection of God's work in your life for you to be cut off from Christ. So hang on to Jesus and trust that His grace is more than enough for you.
Finally, pray for them. In verse 14 Paul says that in his heart he hopes that his fellow Jews who rejected Christ would somehow come back to Him. Likewise, instead of looking down on those who have left the faith, always carry the hope that one day those who have left Christ will return.
Instead of looking down on those who have left Christ or fearing you'll experience the same fate as them, thank God that He used (and in a way is still using) those people in your life to bring you to Him. When someone you know rejects Christ after following Him for a while, let it be a reminder that God alone is God all the while showing that He alone is God and no one is perfect except for Him.
Copyright © 2016 Justin Lim. All rights reserved.