The nations are the fruit of Paul’s ministry—he is the apostle to the nations, and he has brought in a harvest beyond the wildest imagination of the Jews in Jerusalem. And now at this point in Romans he turns to that fruit—those decidedly ethnic Christians—and looks back at his own ministry. He has not forgotten his flesh—those who are bound to him by heritage. And in considering them he hopes that he can create a Godly jealously by means of the ‘success’ of the gospel among the Gentiles. He wants this jealousy to work so that his own people will turn to Christ. Their rejection may highlight the reconciliation of the world, what would happen with their acceptance? If by rejecting God we can still glorify Him, what happens when we turn to Him wholeheartedly? Is there not now a priestly role that we must play in response to our salvation in Christ, turning back our offering into practical service?
We must never, ever forget those who have not yet come to faith. We must not forget the conditions that preceded our own faith–worldliness, lostness, sin, and death, a life without purpose and adrift. Those conditions, however harsh or mild, made it possible for us to accept and appreciate the love and sacrifice of Christ. Are you self-satisfied in your faith, or have you turned lately and taken stock of the debt you owe because of the Good News of Christ?