A man hears about a photography contest that has a huge grand prize. He plans to go to a famous resort area in a third world country to try to photograph something distinctive that would win the prize.
He goes for two weeks and has a great time for the first week. At the end of the first week, he hears some native staff members tell him not to stray too far from the resort area because of reports of an albino lion that many of the natives claim to have seen in the area.
One evening, thinking of the grand prize, he wanders off into the wilderness to see if he can get a picture of the lion. While he is wandering around, suddenly he hears a roar from behind him and is knocked to the ground with such force that he is stunned and becomes semi-conscious.
Meanwhile, some members of the hotel staff who are searching for him come upon the scene with one of them carrying a high-powered flamethrower that could easily drive the lion away. Incredibly, while the lion begins to choke him, the staff members stand a safe distance away and berate him. They yell at him and say that they warned him not to wander off. Instead of using the flamethrower to rescue him, they chide him while the lion continues in its vicious attack.
If this scene were really to have happened, what would we think of the staff members? Yes, the vacationer was foolish and greedily did what he was not supposed to do. Still, how could the staff members do what they did, focusing on his foolishness instead of rescuing him from the lion?
Every lost person is like the foolish vacationer who greedily wandered off and was being devoured by the lion:
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet. 5:8; spoken to believers and shows the vicious nature of the devil; if he is this way towards believers, it surely implies that he is the same towards unbelievers).
But if our gospel be hid, it is hid from them that are lost: in whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ should shine unto them (2 Cor. 4:3-4).
To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in Me (Acts 26:18).
In our dealings with lost people, we must not have a mindset or approach that in any way parallels the staff members above. People who are lost are lost in part because they are helplessly in the grip of an evil supernatural being for whom they are no match, as is pictured in the case of the “woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself . . . whom Satan hath bound . . . eighteen years” (Lk. 13:11, 16).
If we think that we are any better than lost people are and are saved because of something in ourselves, we are wrong. God’s mercy is the only reason that we have been delivered from the lion who wants to devour as many souls as possible:
And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins: wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy . . . hath quickened us (Eph. 2:1-5).
Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son (Col. 1:13).
As the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage (Heb. 2:14-15).
We know that whosever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one touched him not. And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding that we may know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life (1 John 5:18-19).
In our dealings with lost people, we should have a right mindset and approach towards them and their horrific plight. We must not strive with them:
And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will (2 Tim. 2:24-26).