Sunday, January 08, 2017: The Love of Jesus Gets Us Moving in the Right Direction

“For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and 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.” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)

A Fresh Start

For virtually all of us, the New Year feels like a fresh start—an exciting opportunity to begin again. Which is why “New Year’s resolutions” always seem to be a common topic of conversation for the first few weeks of every January. There’s something quite meaningful about committing ourselves to a plan of action for the coming 365 days—a plan that, we feel, will make our lives better somehow.

In its own right, this is a good thing. We ought to set goals that challenge us to make progress in specific areas, especially in regards to the practices which God has ordained to grow us spiritually. And January 1st certainly seems like a culturally sensible time to do that.

At the same time, I know from personal experience that, when it comes to making new commitments and setting new goals, well-meaning ambition has the potential to stunt our ability to discern God’s will—an ability that is determined by the level of one’s spiritual maturity.

In other words, it requires very little discernment to merely rattle off a list of all “the big things I’m going to do for God in 2017.” In fact, we can actually learn a lot about our own level of spiritual maturity by evaluating ourselves to see whether we’ve really sought the Lord and His direction for 2017, or just merely set some goals that seem super-duper spiritual.

Living A Life Controlled by Love

If we’ll seek the Lord through prayer, the reading of His Word and honest consultation with godly community, He will graciously disclose to us His direction for our lives. But we need to understand something: He isn’t going to shy away from telling us what we need to hear, which is often different than what we want to hear. Therefore, discerning the Lord’s will requires a good deal of humility and courage on our part.

Humility because it will require us to confess that we don’t always know what is best for ourselves. And courage because the direction in which God leads us is almost always the direction that seems most difficult. It often involves a sacrifice that seems too painful or a risk that seems just plain crazy.

Thankfully, the apostle Paul gives us just what we need to cultivate courage and humility in our lives at the New Year so that we can begin it God’s way.

In 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (quoted above), Paul claims that “the love of Christ controls” him. In so many words, he’s declaring his wholehearted devotion to Jesus. For him, what Jesus says goes. No matter what it costs. In fact, Paul expands more on what following Jesus cost him in the very next chapter. Just consider this:

…but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger […] through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything. (2 Corinthians 6:4-6, 8-10)

Finally he concludes:

“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities…” (12:10)

Without question, Jesus Christ is Paul’s Master, Lord, Captain, and Judge. Why else would someone want to live like that?

And yet we must not make the mistake of assuming that this was some kind of austere submission on Paul’s part—like a child who begrudgingly obeys a school teacher he doesn’t really like for purely utilitarian reasons.

No, Paul claimed that it was the love of Christ that controlled him. There was a vibrant, meaningful relationship of love supplying Paul’s undying allegiance to Jesus. Because of Christ’s love for him, Paul was willing to make any commitment and keep any resolution for his Lord. He was fully devoted—not because he was such a great guy, but because he knew the greatness of Christ’s love for him.

So what about you? Do you have that same sense of Christ’s love for you? Is your life controlled by it? Are you fully devoted to Him as your Master, Lord, Captain and Judge, willing to go wherever He leads you and do whatever He commands you?

You see, that kind of devotion isn’t something that we can drum up on our own. It can’t be produced through a New Year’s resolution or some kind of grandiose commitment. Rather it is something that is derived from experiencing the love of Jesus firsthand. It comes from taking a good, long look at the self-giving love He displayed so powerfully on the cross. When we do that, God gets us moving in the right direction. And what’s more, we begin to realize that listening to Him and receiving His direction for our lives in this New Year should feel less like an agonizing sacrifice we must make and more like a joyful act of love we get to perform.

That’s the transforming power of Christ’s love for His people. Don’t you want to experience that power more greatly in 2017? Don’t you want to be more humble and more courageous? Don’t you want your life to be controlled by the love of Christ? Let’s make it our New Year’s resolution to answer those questions by saying yes to God in every area of our lives.

To help us with that, we’re going to introduce a brand new song this Sunday. It’s called Fully Devoted. Watch the video and read the lyrics below. You might even want to download the song so you can worship along with it wherever you go between now and the Lord’s Day.

LifePoint, take this opportunity to prepare your hearts for Sunday, heeding Christ’s call to devote ourselves entirely to live for the advancement of His Kingdom. This will be an important weekend for us. Therefore, we must be sure to make the most of it. All for the glory of Christ.

Song Lyrics

You have done more than our minds could ever think
Dreams and visions go beyond what we can see

Our hearts united in the wonder of it all
We stand united in the wonder of Your love

Fully devoted, we follow after the One who gave it all
Christ alone be praised
Fully devoted, we follow after the One who gave it all
Christ alone, Christ alone be praised

There’s no limit, Your Word is reaching all the earth
All consuming, Your love is bringing hearts to life

No matter what it takes for the glory of Your name
Christ alone be praised
We’re stepping out in faith so the world will know Your name
Christ alone be praised

Songs for Sunday, January 08, 2017:

Behold Our God

Rock of Ages

Fully Devoted

Worth It All

Let The Nations Be Glad

About Tyler Greene (181 Articles)
Tyler Greene is the Associate Pastor of Worship Ministries for LifePoint Church in Ozark, MO.

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