The Power of Self-Giving Love

Thank God for Paul’s critics, because his answers to them gave the church profound insights into the person and work of Christ.

In today’s YouTube video, Rudy Ross and I discuss the false teachers who came to Corinth after Paul had left.

They were “more show than go,” as the old South expression has it. Their outward appearance conformed to the accepted norm for “wisdom” speakers in Corinth.

An ornamental hat was a valued possession of “wisdom” speakers. It was supposed to give added power to their eloquence.

Another apparent criticism of Paul was that he was not mentally fit for service.

Paul Answers the Critics

Instead of being a showy “wisdom” teacher, Paul modeled his life after the humility of Jesus.

2 Corinthians 5.11-13Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade people, but we ourselves are well known to God, and I hope that we are also well known to your consciences.

We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you an opportunity to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast in outward appearance and not in the heart.

For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.

To model our lives after Paul and Jesus, three things are necessary.

(1) The fear of the Lord.

The Book of Proverbs highlights the value of this trait.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.
(Proverbs 1.7)

The ultimate expression of the fear of the Lord is to love him with our entire being.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6.5).

While society may boast of power, money, beauty, and success, we value the fear of the Lord that compels us to love him wholeheartedly.

(2) Don’t talk about it, be about it.

To use a modern expression, our imitation of Jesus and Paul involves action.

There is a danger that modern communication techniques are able to so move the emotions that participants are unable to differentiate between an emotional appeal and the work of the Holy Spirit.

I’m not particularly happy with the way I tried to describe this in today’s video, but I still think we need to be cautious.

If the emotional high I experience is not matched by corresponding faithfulness to God’s purposes, something is wrong.

In the video, I spoke of smoke machines and Branson quality presentations. Those items are not wrong in themselves, but participants need to examine themselves to see if their faith is based on nothing more than emotions.

Presenters and participants both need to heed the slogan, “Don’t talk about it, be about it.”

(3) Serving others.

One of the most famous Bible verses says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (John 3.16).

For the Father’s gift of his only Son to be realized, the Son had to be willing to also give. The purpose of his giving was that people could experience eternal life.

Paul understood Jesus’ heart of ministry and followed his example.

If we are going to be like Jesus and Paul, we will join them and serve others.

An appeal to self-giving love

Jesus embodied self-giving love. We embrace a Jesus-kind-of-life of self-giving love as our response to his grace and love.

2 Corinthians 5.14-15For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died.

And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for the one who for their sake died and was raised.

It was God’s plan for all humanity to die with Jesus on the cross so that we could be raised with him.

Since we died and were raised with Jesus, we owe our existence to him. He expects us to imitate his attitude and actions.

No longer shall we live for ourselves, but for Jesus and those whom he loves.

We are called to be distinct from the clever, attractive, successful, powerful, and wealthy persons of culture.

God’s purpose for us is that we will be like his Son in humility, grace, and self-giving love.

YouTube Video

Rudy Ross and I discuss this passage on YouTube today. Rudy adds many insights into this passage and gets me out of trouble with some of my thoughts.

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