2 Corinthians 5:11. Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others.
We are hard-wired for the fear of the Lord. We were made for it. We were created to fear God. To serve him. Worship him. Love him. To respect him as our judge, and honor him as our king. The fear of the Lord is a life altering, reverential awe of God. It changes everything. How we see all and do all of life.
The fear of anything other than God, will never produce the life changing awe that is required for you to move forward in life. To worship anything other than God will leave you uninspired, unmotivated, and uncaring. Because only God is worthy of the fear and respect that is needed to satisfy our heart’s biggest desires.
Why do we fear God? Because he is glorious and powerful, right? But what makes him so glorious, so powerful? His forgiveness, grace, and love. We fear God because deep inside we know that we need his grace and love. To fear God is to see our neediness, our dependency, our inadequacy before him. We fear God not to earn his grace and love, but because we have experienced his grace and love.
Psalm 130:4. But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.
What motivated Paul? In 2 Corinthians 5:11 he says it is the fear of the Lord. But it was also the love of Christ. Look what he says just three verses later.
2 Corinthians 5:14. For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died;
Paul places the fear of the Lord and the love of Christ side by side. He unites them as his motivating force. Why? Because the love of God produces the fear of God.
Love is the most glorious and powerful force in the universe. Even stronger than death itself. Love conquers all. Love moves all. Love is eternal. Love is awe inspiring.
And love is terrifying. Yes, it is love that will save a soul. But it is that same love that will destroy a soul.
Song of Songs 8:6-7 Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm,
for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave.
Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord.
7 Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.
If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised.
The love of God will either rescue you or destroy you. It is not mere sentimentality or attachment. The love of God is holy. It will expose all evil and destroy it. It is a double-edged sword.
The same love of God built an ark and it flooded the earth.
The same love of God parted the Red Sea and it destroyed the army of Pharaoh.
The same love of God forgave David’s sin and it required his son’s life.
The same love of God put Jesus on the cross and resurrected him from the tomb.
The love of God will be revealed and it will reveal everyone. Those who love God and his Son will be purified by the flame of God’s love. Those who hate God and reject his Son will be consumed.
Why do we persuade others? Because we know the fear of the Lord and the love of Christ. A love that must be reckoned with. A love that won’t let you stay where you are. A love that will either restore you, if you will receive it, or destroy you, if you remain hell bent on thwarting the purposes of God’s grace.
“To live is Christ” means that we have experienced the restorative power of Christ’s love. This is a fearful but glorious thing.
Do you fear the love of God? Have you received it? Does it bother you that God’s love is both a sanctifying and destructive force? How does union with Christ allow God’s love to both sanctify and destroy you each and every day?