THE LOVE OF CHRIST CONSTRAINETH US

2Co 5:12-15  “For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart. For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause. For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.”

Paul has stated to the church at Corinth that in the reverential fear of the Lord, he and his companions have reasoned with the multitudes about their eternal salvation in Christ and their need to live in a manner that is pleasing to Him here in this world. However, they did not do this in order to convince the church to stand with and by them again in their trials. Paul and his companions were determined to serve God and reverence their Lord and Savior regardless of what men thought.

Paul brought this to the attention of the brethren so they might be assured that these ministers of the gospel were sincere in their efforts. They wanted the church to be able to say to those who were bragging about appearances that they were being ministered to by men of a sincere heart. As ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ today, that should be our great concern. We do not seek to have people boast of how many new members we have baptized into the congregation, but rather that our sole motivation is a deep and abiding love of Christ and His bride.

Certainly, there must have been times when men questioned Paul’s sanity. Here is a man who is highly favored by the ruling council of the Jews, and he suddenly throws that all away to defend the Way he once persecuted with great zeal. He would go into the synagogue in a certain town and preach Jesus until they ran him out, often with a severe beating and threats on his life. What did Paul do? He went to the synagogue in the next town and preached Jesus until they ran him out, again with much pain and affliction.

Are we willing today for men to think that we are beside ourselves in order to give God glory? The world tells us that one of the signs of insanity is repeatedly doing the same thing in the same way and expecting a different result. By that definition, Paul would certainly appear to be deranged. Yet he went as the Spirit bade him, never questioning God’s reasons for the path he walked. I would that I might always be so faithful to Him as to be willing to be beside myself.

On the other side of that coin, when we are serious-minded in our speaking to the brethren, it should always be for their sakes and not our own. We should always be ruled by the love of Christ; both His love for us and in recognition of His love for those to whom we minister. If we truly preach the gospel of Christ with understanding, then we must realize that we are all in the same condition. If Christ died for all of us, then we must have all been dead in our sins for Him to pay that price.

He did not pay such a price that we may live our lives here as it pleases us. If we truly live, then it must be that we live in a manner acceptable unto Christ. In this way, we make public recognition of the fact that He both died for us and rose again. As He lives and makes intercession for us at the right-hand of the Father, we should honor Him with the life He has given us.

May God bless us to live beside ourselves to Him and soberly for the saints!

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