Robert D. Pace
2 Corinthians 5:11-15
The mandate for the Church is to spread the Good News to all creation. It’s our divine and non‑negotiable ultimatum. We’re familiar with that Great Commission to: “Go into all the world” with the Gospel because Jesus repeatedly emphasized the Church’s duty to reach the unreached.
He said in Luke 14:23 “‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full.”
In John 4:35 He said: “Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.”
He said in Acts 1:8, “and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Even the parables are filled with evangelistic implications. The Parable of the Sower (LUK 8:5‑18); the Fisherman’s Net (Matthew 13:47‑51); the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25‑37); and the Lost Sheep (Luke 15:4‑7) each show the importance of seeking the lost.
But this isn’t a message on evangelism it’s a look at the motivation for evangelism. It’s about being properly influenced in whatever we do for Christ. And powerful things happen when Christians are rightly motivated to live and work for God.
(Transition) With that being the case, What motivates you for Christ? Why do you serve Him, reach out to others, pray, or exercise spiritual gifts? I want to analyze that. The Bible says our chief motivation for living should stem from the presence of love.
Motivated by Love
(Illustration) The story is told of the missionary Hudson Taylor interviewing some youths for Christ’s work. He asked them: “Why do you wish to go as a foreign missionary?” One replied: “because Christ has commanded us to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” Another said: “because millions are dying without ever having heard of Jesus.” Others gave similar answers, but not what Taylor sought. He replied: “All of your motives are good, but I fear they will fail you in times of severe testing and tribulation— especially if you are confronted with the possibility of having to face death for your testimony. The only motive that will enable you to remain true is stated in 2 Corinthians 5:14: “Christ’s love constraining [compelling] you will keep you faithful in every situation.” [i]
Love is the foremost motivation for our work for God and it was Christ’s foremost motivation for rescuing us. It was His primary incentive for entering this sin-infested world. Jesus said in John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
You can contemplate the purpose of Christ becoming human from any imaginable angle but there’s only one answer for why He condescended to our lowly estate—He loved us! When the Apostle Paul pondered this in 1 Timothy 3:16 He concluded it was a mystery! He said: “Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.” It was infinite agape’ love that motivated Jesus to live among men, work for our welfare, shoulder our burdens, and die for our sins. And it’s that divine love flowing through us that should inspire all our actions for Him—not ambition or the need for praise or notoriety. Love should motivate everything we do.
God’s Love is Pure
What is this real, agape’ love? Trying to answer that is like trying to pour the Ocean into a swimming pool. It can’t be done. While nobody can furnish an exhaustive definition of God’s love the Bible does illustrate it. And one fact we understand about His love is that it’s pure and uninfluenced. Now we can’t say that’s how we always express our love but it’s always how God expresses His. We often permit our selfishness to influence whom we love. You know, “What’s in it for me?” We love people because of their gregarious nature or sweet disposition or their benevolence or looks or whatever. But God’s love doesn’t operate that way. It’s pure and uninfluenced toward everyone.
Do you know why God chose Israel as His covenant people? Why He chose Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their descendants? God was careful to inform Israel of why he chose them: In Deuteronomy 7:7 Moses told Israel this: “The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. (8) But it was because the LORD loved you.” In Deuteronomy 4:37 Moses said it was because God: “loved your forefathers and chose their descendants after them.”
(Bible Illustration) How many remember that strange title, “the worm Jacob” that God dubbed upon Israel (Isaiah 41:14)? What a distinguishing title of honor! How would you like God calling you a “worm”? Here’s the point: Regardless of “the worm Jacob’s,” miserly, sluggish, lowly nature. Despite their sin and rebellion God continued loving them!
It doesn’t mean He excused their rebellion or that their sins weren’t judged. It just means He never stopped loving them. They built their idols, stoned His prophets, crucified His only begotten Son, but He still loved them. That’s pure and incomprehensible love! And He loves us the same way. He’ll correct us when we’re wrong and discipline us when we sin. We can even lose out altogether and be banished from His presence in Hell but it won’t be because He didn’t love us! His unchanging love never abates.
How many possess that type love? You say: “But we’re finite, feeble, and “made‑a‑little‑lower‑than‑the‑angels.” How can we possibly love that way?” Let’s face it; it takes work! We have to train ourselves in this love.
(Illustration) I want to admit I have often fallen short of God’s agape. I’ve driven down the road and wept over the sins of lost people but it’s been the exception rather than the rule. As I wrote this message the Holy Spirit’s conviction so engulfed me that I began weeping and could no longer continue studying. I had to fall on my knees and ask for a baptism in love. Folks, our ambition should be for love to be our driving and compelling force to reach and touch others!
Jonah’s Call to Nineveh
How do you characterize the Prophet Jonah? He was the man sent to warn the 100,000 people of Nineveh of God’s wrath. Most picture him as some spoiled, sour, unloving prophet that finally submitted to preaching to Nineveh. And that’s accurate. Here was Nineveh, days away from God’s wrath, and Jonah buys a boat ticket to Tarshish for a vacation. And while sailing there a storm nearly capsized the ship until he told the sailors he was running from God. You remember how Jonah was thrown into the ocean and a whale swallowed him where he stayed for three days. Can you imagine staying three days in a whale’s stomach and still not submitting to God? And when he finally committed to preach in Nineveh love had nothing to do with it. His rationalization was: “I’ve been in this whale three days and still haven’t died. I’d be better off in Nineveh than sloshing back and forth in this seaweed. OK God, I’ll go.” And what an evangelistic campaign he had. The entire city of Nineveh repented. Now you would think Jonah would have been elated after saving Nineveh from God’s wrath, but the Bible says he “was greatly displeased and [even] angry” (JOH 4:1).
Can you imagine that—brooding because God gave him a landslide revival?
Moses wasn’t that way. When Israel’s rebellion stirred God’s fury Moses jumped in God’s lap and cried: “[Lord] please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written” (Exodus 3:32). That’s love! Paul was compelled likewise. Romans 9:10 says: “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. (11) For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race.” There’s only one way to live—that’s with Christ’s love. By intimately knowing Jesus and loving with His love.
I want to close by relating another story I heard about the great missionary Hudson Taylor.
(Illustration) Years ago Taylor, along with many passengers, waited at a riverbank to board a boat that would journey for miles through India. The passengers were transported on a first come basis and hostility could surface to see who would board the vessel. Taylor stood near the front when someone took a stick and whacked him to the ground and stepped in front of him. When Taylor regained his bearings his first instinct was to retaliate but he knew Christ would disapprove. So he calmly looked at the man and said: “If you will control yourself I’ll let you board my ship and make this journey.” The man was stunned to learn Hudson Taylor owned the vessel! And as you might expect Taylor led the man to Christ during the voyage.
We sometimes forget that it’s our character that makes the “word of our testimony” so powerful! It’s Christ’s love in us that persuades the hearts of sinners. Do you love with Christ’s love? Do you love with everything about Jesus?
Do you love with Christ’s eyes? Eyes that don’t see condemnation for the woman caught in adultery, but eyes that see a lonely, confused woman in need of forgiveness.
Do you love with Christ’s ears? Ears responding to lepers and beggars—those society ignores.
Do you love with Christ’s hands? With hands willing to touch the world’s rejected?
Do you love with Christ’s feet? Feet willing to walk toward the stench of Samaria or into homes of tax collectors or before the demonized?
Do you love with Christ’s lips? Peter said this about Him: “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23).
Do you love with Christ’s reputation? Making yourself of no reputation and assuming servanthood?
At some point love took charge and somebody got dirty to rescue you. Can you do that for someone else?
7,700 ILLUSTRATIONS, Tan, Assurance Pub., #3224.