Do you feel up to a challege this morning? Try reading Romans 9:1-3 and then ask yourself this question–“Do I see any similarities between me and Paul? He said,”I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.”(Rom. 9:2-3). What about you? In this age of self-love and self-centered giddy “worship” the last thing people want is “great heaviness and continual sorrow”. They do everything possible to avoid such feelings.They hire “worship leaders” to pump them up and pastors to tell them how they can live their “best life now”. Let a Spirit-filled believer, with a burden on his heart and a tear in his eye, come into their presence and he is looked down upon, not admired. He is criticized, not commended. I don’t know of anyone who is the equal of Paul and he had what most people despise–a broken heart! He was more concerned about lost souls and God’s kingdom than anyone I know. He never preached with a take it or leave it attitude. He was heart broken over the pitiful condition of the lost. Here’s an interesting thought–What do you suppose it would be like to be in the presence of Paul, maybe spend the day with him? Would you be able to see any difference in the way he prayed or preached? I suspect some would think that he was too emotional, too sad, or too radical. If my guess is right, we would come away thinking–this is the most unusal person I’ve ever met. Why do we fear being different? Paul had the boldness of a lion and yet the tender heart of a mother caring for her infant. He had the courage to confront the false teachers, yet enough compassion to speak the truth in love. He was brilliant enough to confound the wisest scholars and yet he communicated in such simple terms that a child could understand him. There was no an ounce of showman in Paul. Now, here’s another question–“Would you feel comfortable in the presence of Paul?” I’ll admit, I think I would be embarrassed by my failures to be in his presence. Maybe that’s why he had so many critics. His devotion to God was an embarrassment to their complacent spirit. They tried to drag him down so as to make themselves look better. So what’s the point? Hopefully this will encourage us to examine ourselves. Maybe we’re not as normal as we would like to think. We might look fine compared to today’s standard, but we fall far short of the norm for first century Chriastians. If you’re honest, you will have to admit that the pattern of Paul is much better than the standard of our day. Considering Paul’s example it seems to me that the calm, well-adjusted, got-it-altogether,”happy” Christian isn’t always the best example. Such people might just be backslidden, cold, and indifferent. They would be much better off if they had “great heaviness and continual sorrow” in their heart. We are pretty much useless without that kind of compassion!