2 Corinthians 5:11
Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest to God…
I. THE MOTIVE POWER OF THE MINISTER (vers. 12, 14).Here we have two different feelings arising from two different circumstances. Terror, a conviction of a judgment to come. Love, a sense of gratitude, kindled by a conviction of the great grace of Him who died. The minister is inspired by his accountability to a righteous Judge and gratitude to a gracious Saviour. The minister stands between the Cross and the judgment. The ocean's tides are caused by the combined influence of sun and moon. Here, then, are the sun and moon of the minister's life. It is the combined attraction of these that fills his life with power and devotion. Consider —
1. The love of Christ as forming one of the motive powers of the ministry.
(1) He who undertakes it must do so without any regard to worldly gain. But let it be borne in mind that this does not release the churches from their duty to see that those who preach the gospel live by the gospel.
(2) It must be carried on without any abatement of zeal in the face of apparent want of success. Men, when engaged in any business which they find does not pay, are at liberty to exchange it for some other. But the minister has not this liberty. What motive is sufficiently powerful to secure this persistent clinging to a work which seems in spite of every effort to bear no fruit? The absorbing love of Christ is alone equal to the task. In success men find a great stimulus to labour; but very often the minister is denied this stimulus. Carey, for seven long years of his missionary life, laboured without seeing one convert to reward his labour or sustain his faith.
2. "The terror of the Lord," as forming another motive. The "terror" here is the deep conviction which Paul had, that he was accountable to God. Having these overwhelming thoughts and convictions, he persuaded men. But it was not alone as a stimulus that this conviction of a judgment served. In the verses following he shows that it was of immense comforting use to him. Men judged him falsely, but he was sustained under such treatment by the conviction that there was another Judge before whom he would have to stand. "We are made manifest unto God."
II. THE LEVER POWER OF THE MINISTRY. The ministry is a provision for persuading men to a certain course, by "beseeching" and "praying" them as if God did it. Never were men called upon to work upon materials so intrinsically valuable. The greatest geniuses have deemed it not unworthy of them to spend themselves in labour upon wood, stones, metals, and canvas. But these are all material sub. stances; and even the toughest of them are perishable. What are they compared with that upon which the minister is called to work — mind, heart, intellect, conscience, and will! Here is work worthy of God; for it is as His substitute you are required to do it.
2. What, then, of the weapons whereby such glorious work is accomplished? Seeing that the work is moral, the weapons must needs be of the same nature and quality. The work, then, must be effected through the instrumentality of motives, and these are, according to the text, the terror of the Lord and the love of Christ — the Cross and the judgment. You may find the thinker, the scholar, and the orator in the same person, but in the absence of the two great truths in question, "the love of Christ" and "the terror of the Lord," there will be no minister, whatever else there may be. Conclusion: One of the wonders of. physical science is an instrument called a concave mirror. If this instrument is held opposite the sun it has a marvellous burning power. Archimedes employed some such instrument as this to destroy the Roman fleet whilst it besieged the city of Syracuse. The gospel ministry is a kind of concave mirror for concentrating the light of the two mighty truths which form its themes upon the hearts and consciences of men. A marvellous example of its power in this respect has been furnished to us in the proceedings of the day of Pentecost.
(A. J. Parry.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.