How do we walk the line of motivation when we don’t want to do something, but know it is the right thing? This line of obedience can get quite blurry in life. This is especially true as we navigate life using the Word of God.
This past Sunday, I made a statement about not really wanting people to give money if they were only doing it out of a sense of obligation. A dangerous statement to be sure. One that could easily beg the question: what about obedience to God?
How many times does the Bible give us a command that really we are not all that motivated to do? Love your enemy. Love your neighbor as yourself. Do not think more highly of yourself than you ought. Do not covet. The list goes on and on calling us away from selfishness and self pleasing. So, should we do them anyway out of a sense of obligation or wait until we feel like it?
I actually believe the answer to be neither. I don’t think we should do the right thing simply because we “have “to. I also don’t think we should wait until we feel like doing the right thing either; our flesh most likely will never get there on at least some things. Somewhere, we have to make the decision to please God and let that become our motivation.
We give, share, go, follow, sacrifice, serve, love, and so on because it pleases God. We should not do these things out of fear or obligation or compulsion or guilt or in trying to punch the right buttons on a vending-machine-god to get the right results. When we do these things of a wrong motive, there is no reward and it does nothing to bring us closer to God or closer to His will.
The Pharisees did everything right. They obeyed completely. Many, if not most, did so with wrong motives and as such were called, “Hypocrites,” “White washed tombs,” and a “brood of vipers.” Not exactly what we should hear from God. The Pharisees who did desire to please God, realized that their obedience was a result of a right heart, not anything else.
Today, if we are doing things for the wrong reasons, it does not matter at all if they are the right things, we are not pleasing God. We can only please God when the heart behind the action is right. Even if we don’t feel like doing it: even if it is unnatural for us to do: we do the right thing to please God, not self or anyone else. Our motivation must be Him.
So, yes, we can obey with a right motive even when we don’t want to do that specific act. As long as that motive is our love for God.
Back to a previous example: when I tell my daughter to do something she doesn’t want to do, she can do it with a right motive (love for me), or a wrong motive (selfish gain, fear, etc.). True it is obedience either way, but one is much better all the way around than the other. Much less painful also.
We do what we do for Him and His glory. That is the right way to approach life. This mindset makes it easier to follow and obey, even in the hard things.
to be continued…