“For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15, NKJV)
Valentine’s Day is traditionally the time when we celebrate love, usually romantic love. When romantic love (Greek: eros) is coupled with brotherly love (phileo) it is certainly an object worthy of celebration. But there is an even greater love. The word most often used in the New Testament for love is agapao. This describes the unconditional, self-sacrificial love that God has for us—a love clearly demonstrated by Jesus Christ. It is a love that compels us. And this is truly worthy of celebration!
We all have something or someone that gets us out of bed in the morning: a job, a relationship, sports, recreation, a hobby—something that motivates us. As a child I could never get up early—that is until I was at my grandparent’s cabin on the Hood River. Amazingly, I was up by 5:00am ready to go trout fishing! It was all a matter of motivation.
We all need some driving force that is worth “gettin’ up early for”. For Paul, it was the love of Christ that compelled him. Paul was passionate for Jesus because he knew that Jesus was passionate for him. Jesus suffered The Passion, culminating in His crucifixion, for the sins of Paul and for the sins of the whole world. This love of Christ is what motivated Paul to love Him and others in return.
Love is the strongest motivating force there is. We will do for love what we would never do for fear or force. Our love for Christ compels us, but so does the love of Christ. In other words, when we give our hearts to Jesus then He puts His love in us as an ever-present, motivating power source.
Now the second half of this verse deals with our identification with Christ in His death and resurrection. If Christ died for all of us, then we have all died. We have died to our own plans, pleasures and pastimes. We have died to the old life of sin in order that we may live a new life for Him. This is truly a compelling reason to live!
In our Valentine’s celebration let us remember the compelling love of Jesus Christ. He gave everything for us. True love always involves self-sacrifice. How can we put this same love in everything we do—not only on Valentine’s Day, but every day?
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