Paul, however, is tempering their mindset by reminding them that before their conversion they were just as evil and profligate as them! He was engendering the spirit, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” The sequel to that was that they should pray earnestly for their ungodly neighbours and believe that God in His power and grace could save them.
The assessment of their previous life, as set out in verse 3, is a true and faithful one. This was designed to do two things. It fostered in their redeemed hearts a spirit of thanksgiving and praise that God had chosen them to salvation. What a wonderful change He had made in their lives! In it, “the kindness and love of God appeared” (4). Because of what the Lord had done for them, they should seek to manifest kindness and love to the souls of the lost and needy all around them. Then, again, it encouraged a spirit of humility and saved them from arrogance and pride. The danger was that they might adopt a position of proud superiority which would repel their acquaintances instead of winning them to Jesus Christ.
In light of that challenge, let us maintain a prayerful concern for the ungodly – all those living in the kingdom of darkness and walking in the shadow of death – and seek their salvation by bringing the gospel of Christ before them at every opportunity.
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