Introduction: The first part of II Cor. is mainly about Paul defending his ministry. Some people had come into the Corinthian church after Paul had planted it and they began to challenge his authority and integrity and question his motives. Think of it like this…if while Andrew were away this weekend and I got up to preach and began to try and persuade you that Andrew’s motives in starting this church were selfish and that he was just trying to make a name for himself. Andrew would want to defend himself when he got back, he might even write a letter to the congregation expressing his true motives. (that is after he fired me). And of course, as we all know, Andrew has no selfish motives whatsoever. His defense really is his character. For anyone who has been around Andrew knows his heart for sharing the gospel and transforming a community for the Kingdom of God, not for his own kingdom. As someone who works closely alongside Andrew every day I can attest that his motives are pure and godly, that he desires nothing except that God alone be glorified and that Christ the King reign in the hearts of everyone in our community.
So as we look at this passage we have this background. In defending his ministry Paul points his readers and us today in the direction of Christ as King. I want us to think about the ministry here at Spring Run and how we are to go about loving our community in a Biblical way. Paul gives us three truths to guide us.
Christ’s love compels us to have:
The Right Ministry
With The Right Motives
For The Right King
1. The Right Ministry.
What is this ministry that we are called to?
Read v. 11-13. Paul says, ”Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men.” In verse 10 Paul talks about the fact that we will ALL have to appear before the judgment seat of Christ. Paul knows that the judgment of God is coming and therefore we need to be ready and we need to let the world know it needs to be ready.
The Right Ministry is to share the Gospel with the world around us. What is the gospel? The Gospel is the ”Good News” that God has chosen to save us through his Son, Jesus Christ.
You see we all have a ”worldview”. Every person needs to have an answer for three very important questions…
1. Where did we come from?
2. What is wrong with the world?
3. How can we fix it?
Every person in this room has their own answers to these questions. The question is whether your answers are right or wrong, and yes, I do believe that we can have wrong answers to these questions. As I have asked different people to answer these questions I get some answers that go along the lines like…
1. We came from evolution. We evolved from some sort of living organism billions and billions of years ago and eventually we came up with this.
2. The problems in the world are because there is evil and a lack of understanding for other people’s opinions and cultures.
3. To fix the problem we just need to educate people on the cultures of the world and accept and be tolerant of their belief systems.
This is what happens when we try to explain life apart from a God-centered view. We come up with a man-centered view and man-centered solutions. I would strongly suggest that this is not working. If you tell me that our problems with Iran are simply a matter of not understanding their viewpoint and their culture then I will tell you that you are desperately wrong. We do understand the viewpoint of Iran, we have been educated on what they believe. They desire to utterly wipe Israel off the face of the earth and because the United States are friends with Israel then they hate us as well and would love to see us be destroyed. Being educated does not fix the problem. If we logically follow the philosophy of evolution then we come up with a meaningless life. If we came from nothing with no intended purpose then our lives have no meaning and no purpose. We can live however we want to regardless of the consequences. And since many people do follow the philosophy of evolution we have had to suffer the consequences.
But God’s answers to these questions are very different. They are not man-centered, they are God-centered.
1. Where did we come from? We were created by God in His image to live in a loving, perfect relationship with him. We get our purpose in life from the creator of life. It is a life that is full and abundant.
2. What is wrong with the world? Man has chosen to live life apart from God. We have chosen to live life for ourselves. We have brought sin into the world. It has destroyed relationships. First our relationship with God and then it has destroyed our relationships with one another. We have created an utterly chaotic world. We can’t blame it on anyone but ourselves.
3. How do we fix it? We can’t fix it. Our own sin has so affected us that we are totally depraved and unable to choose right over wrong. We are so self-centered that we would never be able to fix the problems of the world. So God, in his mercy has chosen to fix the problem for us. God came to the world, to show us what life is supposed to look like, to show us who He is and to fix this problem. God came to the earth in the flesh. Jesus Christ is God’s Son who came and lived a perfect life, he died on the cross to bring us forgiveness of sins and he was raised to life to give us a new life and relationship with God. The problems of the world will be solved by believing in Jesus and his power to make things right again.
So the right ministry is to take this message of hope, the only true hopeful message to the world around us. This is the gospel, this is the good news. I hope that if you are here this morning and wrestling with your life, its direction, its purpose, its meaning that you will see the answers lie the Jesus, who alone is able to save us and our world. And that you would put your faith and hope in him alone.
So if the Right Ministry is to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the world then what is the Right Motivation?
Verse 14 gives us the explicit answer. ”For Christ’s love compels us…” This ministry of this message proves to us that God loves us dearly. He loves us so much that he came and entered into our world. A world that is really messed up because we turned our backs on God. Romans 5:8 says that, ”God demonstrates his own love for us in this, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” While we were enemies of God he chose to love us. This is the motivating factor for us to go out and love the world around us. Let’s go back to the Iran illustration. What is the answer to Iran? They are our enemies, just like we were God’s enemies, so we love them, just like God has loved us.
But what about my neighbor who yells at my kids just for cutting through their yard to get the bus stop? Or what about my coworker who can’t seem to say anything positive but only criticize me and my work?
If you truly understand the grace that God has given to you then you will be truly motivated to love others and extend grace to them. It’s when you can’t seem to forgive other people or extend them grace that you have to look into your own heart and look for motivating factors. If you are strictly motivated to live for yourself and your own desires then yes, you will not be motivated to love others with the gospel of grace.
I John 4:19 says, ”We love because He first loved us.”
I was walking along the beach with a dear friend of mine a year or so ago. While my friend has a great heart they have a really difficult time admitting that they are wrong. I was confronting them on this and trying to get them to see how it was negatively affecting their relationships and life. They are the type of person that just can’t seem to admit they are wrong. Our pride gets in the way of interacting with people. But being right next to the ocean and the waves I said that these waves that come crashing on the beach don’t stop, they keep coming. You can’t make them stop, it is a constant force that keeps coming and coming and coming. This is a great picture of God’s grace, it keeps coming, it doesn’t stop when we make a mistake and are wrong. Because God’s grace is secured in the love of Christ who has died for our sins, past, present and future. There is no reason NOT to admit when we are wrong. God’s unconditional love in Christ destroys pride. We have nothing to fear with God who is full of grace and has an infinite amount of grace and will take an infinite amount of time to extend it to us. Because of Christ we have the freedom to admit our faults and know that we are no longer condemned but we are God’s holy children adopted into an eternal relationship that can never be broken.
When our security in life rests in this kind of love that God gives to us then we are free to extend the same love to those around us. Christ’s love compels us to love others freely.
So far we have seen the Right Ministry of sharing the gospel with those around us with the Right Motivation of being compelled by the love of Christ, now we have to make sure that we are serving the Right King.
It is our natural state to think that we are king of our own worlds. Who is the center of ME? I am of course. This life of mine is meant for me to live my way for my own personal gain. At least that is how the world would encourage us to live. But this passage has just the opposite encouragement for us.
Verse 15 gives us the reason Christ died for us…
”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.” God could not make it any clearer…we are to no longer live for ourselves but we are to live for Christ. You see that we were created by God, in his image, for his glory and to worship him from the beginning. So now we’ve seen that we chose to turn our backs on God and worship ourselves and that God has chosen to bring us back into the relationship, not because of anything we did or deserve but because of his own free mercy and grace. So it makes sense that when God redeems us back, and gives us our life back the way it was created, that we understand that he doesn’t fix us so we can continue to live for ourselves but rather that we live for him who died for us.
God created us to worship Him and Him alone. Our lives have no meaning apart from our relationship with him. We have been dethroned and Jesus is King, he is the right and true King, he is the perfect King. We need to realize that this is great news, we don’t have to try and be king anymore, Jesus will take care of us and all of our needs.
So what does it look like to live for Christ and not for myself?
When you get out of bed in the morning you ask the simple question, ”God, what do you want me to do for you today?” All of us are living in our own circumstances. You have a job, a family, you coach a team, you sit on a committee, you have to go to the grocery store. You need to begin to ask God how he wants you to serve him as you live in your particular circumstances. A lot of times it means that you start by looking out for the interests of others before your own. Because of my particular job and that I work on Sundays, I have off on Mondays. I am tempted to think about Mondays as ”my day”. What am I going to do today to fulfill my own personal desires. And to be honest, when I first started having this day that is exactly how I viewed it. But as the year has gone on I am trying to think of it differently. It is a great day to be able to serve my family and maybe get some things done around the house that Julie has not been able to do because she works too. Some Mondays I take my mom to doctor appointments or just run the kids around and finish by making dinner. Now, seriously, I am not trying to portray myself as some perfect husband and dad, you who know me best know my faults. But what I am trying to say is that I have really sensed God working in my heart on this day and how I spend it. But it’s hard too. I have a lot of things I want to do every day but I have to keep asking myself is this what Christ wants me to do today in order to live out his will, for his glory?
Living for Christ is simply asking the question, ”God what do you want from me today rather than, ”What I am going to do for myself today.”
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