Sunday, 16 August 2015
Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. 2 Corinthians 5:16
“Therefore” is given to have us think on what has been stated thus far and as a lead in to a full explanation of that information. Paul has noted that “if One died for all, then all died.” He then noted that “He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.”
These words give the bases for the “therefore.” Because of our having died with Christ, we should, “from now on,” have a different attitude towards others. Instead of seeing them as simply people whom we interact with by using normal human motives, we should “regard no one according to the flesh.” We are to no longer make superficial judgments, but are rather to regard other believers as those for whom Christ died.
We have died with Him and we should live for Him. Our judgment of others is to be based on our spiritual relationship with Him. In other words, we shouldn’t look at and regard a person because they are famous, because of their status in society, because of their amount of wealth, because of their color, or because of any other external reason. Instead, we should view all people based on their relationship to Christ. Our regard of others is not “according to the flesh” but according to who they are in a new, spiritual way.
To show us what he means, he next says, “Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer.” There was a time when Paul saw Christ as a mere human. His idea of who Christ should be was a conquering king over an earthly kingdom. Others may have seen Christ as a great scientist or a man of great philosophical wisdom. Today, Jehovah’s Witnesses see Christ as a created being and not the Lord God.
Whatever carnal, fleshly way we once saw Christ, if we are truly “in” Christ, we no longer know Him in this way. Instead, we see Him as our Lord. We regard Him as the One to whom we are to fix our hopes, our goals, our aspirations, and our eyes upon. Paul once viewed Christ as a dead person whose followers needed to be destroyed, but then he encountered the risen Christ and that all changed.
His words about Christ show that our attitude should also be different concerning His followers. We are to regard them first and foremost as saved believers, spiritually reborn and valued children of God because of the work of Jesus. This idea can be beautifully seen in the slave Onesimus. Paul writes these words about him in Philemon –
“For perhaps he departed for a while for this purpose, that you might receive him forever, 16 no longer as a slave but more than a slave—a beloved brother, especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.” Philemon 1:15, 16
Though he was still a slave in the flesh, Paul asked his master to regard him as “a beloved brother.” In Christ, all things are new. This is what Paul is relaying to us in his words today.
Life application: Who do you show more regard for in your congregation – the handsome, wealthy, or powerful? Rather than looking at externals, let us regard other believers first and foremost from their position in Christ. Let us look at them as valued brothers and sisters with whom we will spend eternity.
Lord God, please grant me a heart to not look at my fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord based on externals, but on who they truly are. Keep me from showing preference to others because they are wealthy, powerful, good looking, or whatever other false perception might be contrary to their devotion to You. Help me to make their love of You my highest reason for desiring their friendship. I know that in Christ, all are on a level playing field when it comes to the things of the world. And so help me to look beyond those things! Amen.