Have You In My Heart
Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace. (Philippians 1:7)
Paul had the Philippian church in his heart. That was a big step for Paul because when he began his ministry, he didn’t particularly care for gentiles. He was Jewish -- born with Jewish credentials, participated in Jewish training, and had a stance against anything Gentile focused. But when God turned his life around, Paul learned that God called him to minister to the Gentiles.
When I was young, I worked for an oil company that serviced most of Detroit. In those days, the majority of the owners of the gas stations in Detroit were from an Arabic heritage. Every day that I went to work, I had them calling me and cussing me out on the phone. The cursing from them continued when I arrived at their stations. Because of how I was treated, I developed a strong dislike for Arabic people. Many of you reading this may have a strong dislike for people because of past experiences. You might look at those who don't share your ethnic background and make unfair judgments about them.
God soon called me into pastoring and as the church grew, we had a guest speaker named Marilyn Hickey come in to speak at the church. As she was sitting next to me, she turned and said, “Keith, the Lord says that you’ve got to come with me to Pakistan.” Immediately I was against it. No. No way was the Lord calling me there! But as I went to prayer, the Lord said, “Yes. She was right. That was Me speaking. You go.” There are two ways for you to have people in your heart. One is to pray for them. That's what I began to do; I prayed for people I previously disliked. The second way is to give to them. I was able to give myself into this time of ministry, and God placed the Arabic people of Pakistan in my heart.
Practical Application – Do you find yourself harboring hatred toward people of another race or background than yours? Begin to pray for people of that background and find an opportunity to give. Doing so will free your heart to be able to love as God loves.
Romans 1:9; 2 Corinthians 9:14