Food for Friday

For the love of Christ constraineth us, because we thus judge, that if One died for all, then were all dead. 2 Corinthians 5:14

We all know that old saying that it is easier to catch flies with honey than with vinegar. Something that is sweet is more likely to draw attention than something that is sour. Our text today speaks of something that is sweet – the love of Christ. It is this love that constrains us. To constrain simply means to hem in or to prevent from getting out of line. In this case, it refers to our behaviour. We know that the fear of the Lord will affect our behaviour, just as the fear of any authority will have an impact on us. Our fear of the traffic police will keep us (reasonably) close to the speed limit when we drive. Our fear of our parents kept us from misbehaving in public when we were children. But our text tells us there is an even greater incentive for us to conduct ourselves carefully and wisely – the love of Christ.

Is Paul speaking here of our love for Christ? If so, we can understand that this love will cause us to want to do that which pleases the One we love. Because we love Him, we will seek ways to display that love, and will strive to remind ourselves and our Lord that we love Him. this is surely an excellent constraining power in our lives. But I don’t think this is what Paul had in mind, exactly.

I believe Paul is speaking of the love that Christ has for us. Why do I think that? Because the remainder of the verse speaks of One Who has died for all. The great motivating force behind all of God’s outreach to us is His love. The reason the Lord Jesus came into the world is His love for us, His compassion for lost and helpless sinners. As our text says, this great love is our great constraining force. When we consider such love for us, how can we not respond by regulating our lives in a way that He will approve?

Our text tells us that because Christ died, all of us die as well. That sounds like a contradiction, doesn’t it. We know that because Adam sinned, and died because of his sin, we are all doomed to die, because we are sinners just like Adam was. The first Adam died in defeat. The Last Adam died in victory. When the Lord Jesus died, He overcame death, and He provided a way for us to overcome death, in Him. Before we were saved, we were dead in trespasses and sins. Now that we have been redeemed, we are dead to sin. So Christ’s death leads to the death of everybody. Those who will not avail themselves of the virtue of His death are doomed to destruction. Those who have availed themselves of the virtue of His death accept His death as our payment for sin and are alive to God.

The love of Christ is the greatest motivator for you and me to constrain our lives to that which will please Him. – Jim MacIntosh

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