What do you live for? And why?
For Paul, the answer was very clear. The thing he always kept in mind was that a day of judgment was coming, not only for himself but for others (10). And so he wrote,
Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. (11a)
Put another way, to stand before God is a fearful thing. It’s going to be bad enough for us who are Christians and know we won’t be condemned for our sin. But it’s going to be a million times worse for those who don’t know Christ. And because of that Paul says, “We do our best to persuade men to turn to Christ while they can.”
Again, he reiterates that he does so with sincerity and good conscience before God and men (11b-12), because he knows that God will judge him not only for what he’s done but for his motives as well.
What were Paul’s motives? Why did he care enough to share the gospel despite persecution?
If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of 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. (13-15)
Paul says here that Christ’s love compels him. Actually, the Greek reads, “the love of Christ compels us.” And it can be understood two ways. One is how the NIV translates it: Christ’s love for him and others compelled Paul. The other is that Paul’s love for Christ compelled him. I think if you asked Paul, he would have said both were true. We see both ideas in the next two verses.
Paul says in verse 14 he says he was convinced Christ died for all. Why did Christ die for us? Why did he sacrifice all to go to the cross? Because of his great love for us. And now in response to his love, we no longer live for ourselves. Rather we die to our old, selfish way of living and start living each day for Christ. As John wrote,
We love because he first loved us. (I John 4:19)
How about you? Are you living for yourself? Or are you living for God? And if you are living for God, is it merely because of fear of judgment? Or is it because of Christ’s love for you and your love for Christ?
And is Christ’s love flowing through you such that you feel like you simply have to share it with others no matter the cost?
Who and what are you living for? And why?