2 Corinthians 5:11-15

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, June 10, 2024 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
- 2 Corinthians 5:11-15

Since way back in 2 Corinthians 2:14, Paul has been discussing the apostolic ministry. He has described the privileges of being an apostle, competence for serving in this way, the old and new covenants and how that relates to their ministry, and the suffering and rewards of being an apostle, including having confidence when faced with death. Here, Paul continues to talk about apostolic ministry but in the context of motivation for serving God in this way.

Paul begins this section in verse 11 by acknowledging the fear of the Lord. This fear is not a paralyzing terror but rather a profound reverence and respect for God's holiness and justice. Recognizing the reality of God’s judgment (as mentioned right before today’s passage in verse 10), Paul and his companions are motivated to persuade others about the truth of the gospel. This truth includes both sharing what God’s Word says about Jesus and the Kingdom and how we should practically apply it to our lives. The apostles’ transparent and sincere lives are open before God, and they hope that is evident to the Corinthians as well. This verse highlights the integrity and earnestness of Paul's ministry, driven by the awareness of God’s omniscience and the desire for others to come to the same understanding.

We see Paul’s humility in verse 12 where he clarifies that his intent is not self-promotion but rather to provide the Corinthians with a reason to be proud of their association with him and his ministry. This is in contrast to those who boast about external appearances and superficial achievements. Paul’s focus is on internal, heart-centered transformation and genuine faith. By emphasizing the importance of what is "in the heart," Paul challenges the Corinthians to value authentic spirituality over outward appearances. Being transparent before God and other people so that they can see the state of our hearts is more important than simply appearing as good to others but in an unrighteous manner.

Paul addresses criticisms that he and his companions are "out of their mind" in verse 13. This accusation likely stems from their zealous and unconventional approach to ministry. Paul asserts that if their actions seem irrational, it is because they are wholeheartedly committed to God. On the other hand, if they appear rational and sensible, it is for the benefit of the Corinthians. This verse highlights the dual motivations of Paul’s ministry: an uncompromising dedication to God and a thoughtful concern for the well-being of the believers. Paul emphasizes that he is not motivated for his own selfish gain but that it is all for God’s glory, as he had previously written about in 1 Corinthians 10:31 and 2 Corinthians 4:15 among other places.

In verse 14, Paul reveals the driving force behind his ministry: the love of Christ. This compelling love is not just an abstract concept but a powerful, active force that motivates and directs his actions. Paul is deeply convinced of the foundational truth that Christ died for all humanity. This sacrificial death implies that all have died to their old, sinful selves and are called to live a new life in Christ. The universality of Christ's atonement is emphasized, underscoring the fact that the gospel message is truly for everyone.

Paul concludes this section in verse 15 by explaining the purpose of Christ’s sacrificial death. It was not just for the forgiveness of sins but also to transform the lives of believers. Those who have received this new life are called to live not for themselves but for Christ, who died and was resurrected for their sake. This verse shows us the essence of Christian discipleship: a life lived in response to Christ's love and sacrifice, characterized by selflessness and dedication to God’s purposes.

This section gives us some great insights and applications to our daily lives as followers of Jesus Christ.

First, Paul’s motivation is deeply rooted in the fear of the Lord, a reverent awareness of God’s holiness and justice. This fear drives him to persuade others about the truth of the gospel. In our contemporary context, cultivating a healthy fear of the Lord involves recognizing His sovereignty and holiness, which should lead us to live lives of integrity and urgency in sharing the gospel. We, too, should have that fear, awe, and reverence of the Lord.

Paul emphasizes the importance of heart-centered faith over superficial appearances. This challenges us to evaluate our own lives. Are we more concerned with how things look on the outside or with genuine transformation and spiritual depth on the inside? Living an authentic Christian life requires transparency, sincerity, and a focus on internal character rather than external praise from others.

The compelling love of Christ is the driving force behind Paul’s ministry. This love is not passive but active, urging us as believers to live sacrificially and passionately for Christ. The call to live for Christ rather than for ourselves is central to Paul’s message, and it should be central to our lives as well. This involves a radical reorientation of our priorities and desires. As believers, we are called to live in a way that honors Christ, reflecting His love and grace in our interactions and decisions. This means putting aside selfish ambitions and embracing a life of service and dedication to God’s will.

Reflect on your own life this week. Are you driven by a deep reverence for God and a passionate love for Christ? Are you focused on genuine spiritual growth and transformation? Are you living for Christ, seeking to honor Him in all that we do? May Paul’s words inspire and challenge us to live faithfully and fervently for the one who died and rose again for us.

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