"My heart's desire"
Sometimes I hear men preach who do not appear to have any real burden upon their hearts. Their doctrine is orthodox. They are well prepared. And they have unquestionable ability. But they do not seem to really care whether people believe or do not believe, whether their hearers are saved or damned. They just come before men and lay out the facts. The apostle Paul was not such a man! He had a message from the heart of God, which he had experienced in his own heart. And he delivered his message to the hearts of men, as one who could not endure the thought of men and women perishing without Christ. Knowing the terror of the Lord, he persuaded sinners to flee to Christ (II Cor. -11).
He reveals his heart's emotions in his epistle to the Romans. "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 myself accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh" (9:1-3). Paul the apostle was moved to record those words by the same Spirit who moved Moses the prophet to say to the Lord, If thou wilt not forgive their sin, "blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written" (Ex. 32:32). Most of the commentators I have read try very hard to make these passages say what they do not say. They cannot understand orthodox men making such statements. I am confident that both Moses and Paul meant exactly what they said! They loved the people to whom they preached. Yes, they spoke extravagantly. But love speaks extravagantly! Love does not speak in calculated terms, without feeling. Love, when it is bursting to make itself known, will often speak beyond pure rationality. Of course, in more sober moments, no man would give up Christ for another, or exchange his own soul's salvation for another's. And any believer knows that such a ransom could never be accepted by God. But a genuine love for the souls of men and an earnest desire for their salvation, for the glory of Christ, compelled these men of God to speak beyond mere rationality. They spoke as dying men to dying men! God make me such a preacher. Men with aching hearts are likely to hear men whose hearts ache for them.