Summary: In this lesson we see what it was that compelled Paul to serve, and therefore what it is that should compel us as well.
A. The story is told of a very wealthy lawyer who vacationed for several weeks each year at his summer home in the backwoods of Maine.
1. Each summer, he would invite friends to come to visit him.
2. One summer he invited a lawyer from Czechoslovakia to visit him.
3. They had a wonderful vacation, and spent a great deal of time exploring the woods and enjoying the natural setting.
4. One morning, as the lawyer and his Czechoslovakian friend were walking through the woods, they came to a berry patch and saw two huge bears -- a male and a female.
5. The American lawyer noticed them in time to run for cover. His Czech friend, however, was not so lucky.
6. The male bear grabbed him and swallowed him whole.
7. Seeing this, the lawyer ran to his Mercedes and sped for the nearest town to get the local sheriff.
8. The sheriff grabbed a high-powered rifle and they raced back to the berry patch. Luckily, the bears were still there.
9. The lawyer pointed to the male bear and said, “He's in THAT one! Quick -- shoot it. Maybe we can still save my friend!”
10. The sheriff looked at the bears, leveled his gun, took careful aim, and shot the female bear.
11. She fell to the ground while the startled male fled into the woods.
12. “Why did you do that?” demanded the lawyer, “I said he was in the male bear!”
13. “I know,” replied the sheriff, “But would YOU believe a lawyer who told you that the Czech was in the male?”
B. Why do we do what we do?
1. What compels us to do what we do?
C. In today’s passage from 2 Corinthians, Paul tells us what it is that compels him to serve Christ.
1. What compels him is the same thing that should compel us.
2. Let’s spend some time working through the text and discover how we should be compelled, convinced and commissioned.
I. Understanding the Word
A. Today’s passage follows very naturally from last week’s passage.
1. Last week, we discovered from 2 Corinthians 5:1-10 that if our earthly tent is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal home in heaven.
2. We learned that when we really understand that to be at home in the body means that we are actually away from the Lord, then we will prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
3. But all of this causes us to make it our goal to please the Lord, because we all will some day appear before the judgment seat of Christ.
B. With all of that in mind, Paul began the next section saying: Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. (5:11a) NIV®
1. Paul had a healthy fear of the Lord.
2. He didn’t have a cringing terror for some kind of uncaring, spiritual, tyrannical ruler.
3. Rather, Paul stood with awe and inadequacy before the Lord and Maker of us all.
C. The Old Testament speaks often of our need to have this kind of cleansing fear of God.
1. Psalm 19:9 reads: The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. NIV®
2. Deuteronomy 10:12 reads: And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. NIV®
3. Did you notice that fearing the Lord begins that list of things that God requires.
4. Proverbs says that fearing God is the right place to begin the pursuit of understanding. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” (Pr. 1:7) NIV®
5. Proverbs 16:6b says: through the fear of the LORD a man avoids evil. NIV®
6. The NT also speaks of our need to fear God.
a. In Mt. 10:28, Jesus said, “Be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
b. Heb. 12:28 says: Let us so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe for our God is a consuming fire.
7. These verses don’t describe the fear of a dog who awaits a whipping or of a child cowering in a corner.
8. Rather, these verses picture the person who seeks to please a Holy God; a person who is motivated to keep from doing something that will break the heart of the God they love.
9. Because we know this Holy God who loves us, and has provided a way to avoid His judgment and wrath, we try to help others be prepared.
10. We try to persuade them to know, and love, and fear the Lord.