For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. -2 Cor 5:14-15 ESV
Happy Sunday, friends! I hope last week’s challenge was fruitful for you! As is typically the case when the Lord presses something on my heart, I found myself in circumstances prime for putting what I was learning into practice. Particularly today. Don’t get me wrong, it was a wonderful week filled with numerous blessings, but often it’s everyday annoyances arriving on the scene in a Costco-sized heap that throw me off my happiness rocker. This morning I slid off of it slowly as the day unraveled. My husband was held over at work (3rd shift struggles!), so I was on my own getting everyone ready for church, at which I had an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction that I didn’t notice until leaving. I came home to ants in the kitchen and a toilet still clogged from earlier, which meant a trip to the store with both kids in tow to buy something called a toilet auger, among other things. Of course, none of this is life-altering or even slightly bad, but it was just enough for my sinful nature to remove its focus from counting blessings to thinking only about me, me, and me. Naturally, that attitude slipped into many of my interactions and conversations with both my children and strangers.
Driving home this afternoon, these verses from 2 Corinthians were brought to mind. I had spent some time considering them this morning, and the Holy Spirit again brought them to the forefront. Paul wrote these in his second letter to the church at Corinth. Both before and after this, he discusses what he has endured as a missionary spreading the Gospel. He describes himself as being hard-pressed, persecuted, struck down, and perplexed (4:8-9). He talks about sleepless nights, hardships, beatings, imprisonments, riots, hard work, and hunger (6:4-5). These descriptions bookend his declaration that “the love of Christ controls us” or, as translated in the NIV, “Christ’s love compels us”. Why? Because Jesus Christ died for us, that we may no longer live for ourselves, but for Him.
This is astounding to me. Paul, after being beaten, shipwrecked, hard-pressed, persecuted, and more says that his motivation to keep going is the perfect love of Christ. It compels. It controls. It presses him onward toward the goal (Phil 3:12). His motivation is not retirement or even to make it to the end of the day so he can finally sleep. His motivation is Jesus. His motivation is that once he was dead, and now he is fully alive. Now he no longer lives for himself. Perfect.Love.
Friends, I don’t know about you, but this convicts me. Goodness, if anyone had an excuse to complain, throw in the towel, and binge watch Netflix, it was certainly Paul (in my opinion). A clogged toilet and a few ants have nothing on his circumstances and yet rather than looking for what God may do in the mundane areas of my life today, I allowed selfishness to compel and control me. It’s so easy to fall into, isn’t it? We get tired, bored, worn out, or frustrated and suddenly our focus slips from the Bigger Picture and moves inward. It’s our fallen, human nature. But what if our #mondaymotivation this week was centered on who Jesus is and how perfect His love is? What if we intentionally meditated on how He has saved us, redeemed our lives, rescued us from the dominion of darkness, and given us glorious freedom in Him? I don’t know about you, but what I spend my time thinking about is often what controls me.
This week, my challenge to you and to me is to replace thoughts of self with thoughts of Jesus. To be purposeful about running to scripture in an effort to remind ourselves of His great love. To be mindful of what is compelling us in any given situation, whether that is at home, at work, or while running errands. I wonder how my week and yours might look different if our actions were driven by perfect Love? My prayer is that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we may find areas of selfishness torn down and replaced with a deeper knowledge of the extravagant love of Jesus. I believe this could transform how we think about what Jesus has called us to in our everyday lives. Oh that He would become more and more and we would become less. I’m praying for you this week!
Additional verses to meditate on this week:
1 Timothy 1:15-17