When should we give up on saving a soul?

Scripture: Matthew 7:6, Luke 9:5
When should we give up on saving a soul? There is a balance. The Bible says some fields are more ripe. Jesus said if you go to a town and are not welcomed you need to move on. You need to use wisdom.
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Caller:  I was wondering—I do a lot of different ministries and I’ve been in ministry for twenty years and, you know, gradually working into more and more, more advanced Bible studies, and I’ve realized a pattern in me with getting busy with ministries, in working with people I feel that I sort of lose compassion for the people and I become more rote.  I know Scripture really well and the Holy Spirit is so good to give me what I need for that person at that time, but I find myself kind of almost being indifferent sometimes with certain individuals and I know Jesus had compassion for everybody….

Pastor Doug:  You don’t want to lose your fervor for souls.

Caller:  Yes.  And I have an incredible fervor for the souls, but what I begin to do is—and I work with prison ministries—is I sort of, in the back of my head, realize this guy might not make it and I tend not to—I feel like I lose compassion.  I say, oh well, move on to the next guy. 

Pastor Doug:  Now there’s a balance.  And it’s interesting that you should ask this question because just a few hours ago I was on an airplane and sitting next to somebody, and a few years ago I would have spent half my flight trying to figure out how to strike up a conversation and talk to them about the Lord. 

But I was so tired that, you know, I just sort of crawled into my—I insulated myself from the world and worked on my computer.  So I know what you mean.  Now there is another issue, and this may sound a little bit cold—when you are evaluating how to spend your time working for souls, there are some fields that are riper than others.  And Jesus said “Do not cast your pearls before swine and do not give that which is holy to the dogs”.  You know, you may find people that just are not open and your time is the pearl.  Your time is what is holy. 

And so you don’t want to be wasting your precious time plowing on ground that just won’t bear any fruit, and you want to move on.  Even Jesus said if you go to a town and they reject you, move on.  So don’t condemn yourself if you evaluate some people and you say This person doesn’t seem to be open and you move on to others.  You know, God is not expecting you to have divine insight, but He wants you to use your wisdom.

Caller:  But my fear is I don’t care.  Laughter

Pastor Doug:  Now that’s a different issue.  You want to pray that the Lord—and this is something that comes through prayer—you want to pray that the Lord is going to keep your heart soft, and this is part of the new covenant, that He’ll take the stony hearts and give us hearts of flesh.  You know, a heart of flesh hurts more than a heart of stone, doesn’t it? 

Caller:  Yes.  And, you know that’s the other part of my question was—I think of Mary Magdalene and when she met with Christ she was changed.  And I thought—because I came out of an alcoholic home and a semi-abusive dad, and I wonder if some of my problem isn’t I just don’t want to feel the pain of them not responding or—and it’s not even rejection of me.  I don’t have—that was early on in ministry.  I don’t really mind that they reject.  I feel more—I feel like I’m sort of giving up a willingness to care.

Co-Host:  Could I just make a suggestion?  I understand what you’re saying and I understand what you’re feeling because I have pastured a church now for several years and there are times when I get a little, you know, in a rut, so to speak, and the thing that woke me up the most was the trip to a foreign country on a short-term mission trip.  Sometimes, you know, just getting out into a different area and doing a different kind of ministry will re-establish…

Pastor Doug:  It revives your love for souls.

Co-Host:  Exactly.

Pastor Doug:  You know, Sheila, the answer we probably need to tie this off but the answer—something I think I read between the lines—depending on your background, you can be afraid to invest emotionally in people because of rejection and, you know, that’s a risk we have to take as Christians.  Jesus risked incredible rejection and He experienced it, but, you know, you have to open yourself because that’s also where you experience the love and the joy and the fulfillment.  Otherwise you end up—you cloister your heart and insulate it and you can’t reach anybody.  People care because you care. 

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