“Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience.” (2 Corinthians 5:11, ESV)
Motivation in life is important. Some have an inner drive for survival. In 1914-15, Earnest Shackleton led the Trans-Artic Expedition to be the first to cross the Antarctic on foot. However, things did not go according to plan. In November 1915, his ship was crushed by ice. The 27-man crew was stranded on an ice flow. He led the crew to a tiny uninhabited island and decided that he needed to take a small lifeboat with a five-person crew to get help. The journey took two weeks covering 800 miles. They faced tremendous hardships in route. After making it to South Georgia, an Island in the South Atlantic, Shackleton and two men scaled a glacier covered mountain to the center of the island where there was a Norwegian whaling station. Several weeks later, Shackleton chartered a vessel and returned to Elephant Island to rescue the men who were left behind. All the men were successfully rescued. There was something special within Shackleton and his men. They had the will to survive.
The power of the will to survive is well known. There are many who in the direst of circumstances will give up and perish. Yet others in the same situations will just not quit. It is something in the heart, an inner motivation, that causes some to rise to great heights while others fall. As mentioned in previous devotions, Paul experienced many hardships and much affliction in his ministry. Yet there was something in his heart that moved him forward. He never quit. In previous devotions, several of these were discussed. Here in this paragraph, 2 Corinthians 5:11-15, he presents some core factors.
In this verse, we see a key motivational factor. Paul knew “the fear of the Lord.” It was for this reason, that he labored to “persuade others.” The word “fear,” phobos, has a broad set of usages in the New Testament. It can refer to fear or terror. It is also used of astonishment or amazement. Very often it refers to a reverential fear or awe. (Thayer p199). As Paul viewed his mission, he knew “the fear of the Lord.” He was in awe of the Lord. With this he knew of the Lord’s omniscience and His omnipotence. He knew the vital nature of the message to which the Lord committed him. He understood that apart from it, people would perish in the judgment of God.
Paul prefaced this section by looking back to the previous thought using the word, “therefore.” He understood that there would be a day when his works would be judged. Paul was motivated because of his overwhelming view of the Lord and he knew the importance of his calling. It was one in which he was motivated to fulfill for the glory of God. This inner motivation drove him to carry on, when human logic would say, “Just quit.”
Paul’s motivation rested in an awesome view of the Lord. Perhaps we should all examine our motives. What is it that drives our lives? Is it an awesome view of our Lord high and lifted up. Consider Isaiah when he had the vision of the Lord in the Tabernacle. When he was confronted with the awesome wonder and glory of the Lord almighty, the motivation of his life was transformed. He saw his own failures, confessed and then surrendered to the Lord’s call to be a prophet of the Most High. (Isaiah 6:1-8)
Let us spend some time in prayerful contemplation of our Lord. When we see Him high and lifted up, our inner motivation to seek and to serve will be great.