Controlled by love
“For the love of Christ constrains us;” - 2 Corinthians 5:14a
The apostle Paul made a statement here that stands in contradiction to legalistic religion. It is often taught in many Christian religions today that our love for Christ should control us and cause us to behave righteously. We’re told that our problem with sin is that we don’t love Jesus enough and if we love Him we would obey Him.
Yet in this verse, Paul spoke in opposite terms. He suggested that it isn’t our love for Christ that regulates our actions, but His love for us. Paul didn’t say it was his love for Christ, but rather the “love of Christ” that controlled him.
A young man thinking about marriage had a list of requirement against which he checked every girl whom he met. Finally, he met a girl who he believed could meet most of his requirements as his wife. Shortly the two became engaged, and then married.
Once married the man put his list of his requirements away. Then one day the young wife came across the list and it was titled, “What I expect from my wife.” The list included being a giving person, keeping the house clean, preparing meals, washing dishes, doing the laundry, not allowing herself to weigh over 120 pounds, not cutting her hair too short, bearing and raising children, conducting herself modestly and godly, while being of a humble but confident spirit.
After reading the list she became infuriated that she was given a test because no woman could be like that, and she knew she was not like that. So she determined to teach her husband a lesson. Until she saw on the back of the paper entitled, “What I expect toward my wife.”
The young man also had a list of what and how he should be toward his wife. His list was much shorter though. In fact it had only one item on his list. The young man’s one item read, “Love my wife supremely so she would want to be the wife she can be on the list.” The young wife’s heart attitude quickly changed. She now had a great desire to be that woman that her husband saw in her.
Understand child of God, that the Christian life is not about a list of rules and regulations, but it is about a love relationship with Christ. Christian love cannot be forced. Love comes from knowing the love of Christ. So quit grading your conduct and most of all quit grading yourself on how much you love Christ, but rather focus on how much He loves you. He loves you so much that He gave Himself to die for you. As a result, when His love is made real in your heart and you start understanding His love for you that naturally produces the right godly attitude, which produces a desire to obey Him.
David C. Hale, pastor