What drives you? What gets you up in the morning to live? Perhaps some of you may have never thought about this question. Many of us just go with what people have told us. But for the Christian, there is something else that compels us: God’s love.
Paul writes that the love of God controls us- the NIV translates this as “compels” us. The word has the idea of something holding and not leaving room for movement. It is something that occupies Paul’s thoughts, and urges him to do something. This is an important idea. God’s love is not something that we just enjoy by ourselves. God’s love actually does something in our hearts that causes us to act and to do something. This is a different picture than the idea of a Christian who sits at home on the couch and watches TV. Rather, after experiencing God’s love for us on the cross, this love motivates us to trust his love for us and respond to it.
How does this love motivate us? It motivates us in two ways. First, we are set free from our old way of life and set free to live a new life. Faith in Christ means we have been united with him spiritually. This means that our lives are identified with Jesus. When he died on the cross, our old sinful lives “died” with him. This is what Paul means when he says, “that one has died for all, therefore all have died.” When Paul says, “all”, he doesn’t mean every single person in the world. But he means all who have believed in Him. All believers have “died” to living in the old way before Jesus.
What does this mean that we died? If we have died, we have died to our old way of living and the fears of our old lifestyle. Many of us are motivated by fear. We fear what others may think of us, or what others can threaten to do to us. We fear losing people’s approval or affection. But if we have died, and we no longer fear death. We also are not afraid of losing the things we have in life. God’s love is enough. We are also set free from the fear of failure. Christ died and rose again for our sin. In God’s eyes, our failure to follow and obey God has been covered by Christ’s blood. We are truly set free.
Those are the things we have been set free from. But what are we set free for? Paul writes, “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 (15).”
God’s love motivates us because it changes our desires. A person touched by the Holy Spirit helps us to see the beauty of what Christ has done. This makes us ashamed of our sin and makes us to no longer want sin, but to love God. A life where we love ourselves leads to a smaller life. But because of Christ’s love, we are no longer living for our own comforts or to be selfish desires, but rather out of love for him. We are not to live for our own sakes anymore, but for Christ’s. He died and was raised and we live for what he desires.
One illustration I like to use is the idea of resonance. Let’s imagine you have two strings that are tuned to the same note. If one of the strings vibrate, it will vibrate the air around it. The other string will eventually vibrate as well because it is tuned to the same note.
This musical illustration is a simple way of illustrating the life of a person whose heart is in tune with God. When they hear the Gospel, the Holy Spirit awakens their heart to respond. They begin to desire what God desires. They begin not to vibrate according to the ways of the world, but according to what God desires. The beauty of what Jesus has done for them captures them and makes them desire what God desires.
Questions for Meditation:
1. When you think about Christ, does your heart awaken with joy at the thought of Him?
2. What does living for yourself look like in your life? Ask someone who loves you and can be honest with you what ways you may have lived for yourself recently.
3. Do you feel helpless to bring about this love for God or a change in your life? Spend some time asking God to awaken your love for Him again.