There has been, and continues to be, a great deal of discussion (and confusion) about what should motivate a Christian towards service and obedience. The great call upon our lives, as God’s children, is to love God completely…”to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind,” (Matt 22:37). But the “love for God” manifests itself in many ways.
I have heard it said (again recently) that the “only” God honoring motivation for the Christian life is…gratitude, and I am not about to deny the importance (or the essentiality) of gratitude for Christian living, but my study of scripture seems to reveal that there are numerous Godly motivations for Christian obedience. As I have reflected upon the teaching of Christ and the scriptures—faith (for example)—seems to have a high value placed upon it: Heb. 11:6–“For without faith, it is impossible to please God,” and in Gen. 15:6 “and Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.”
Now faith is a “cognitive” matter that begins with “thinking on/ considering” a truth about God or a promise in His word…and then acting upon it…as if it were true! This IS faith—and God is “pleased” when we act upon His word in this manner. In fact, this seems to be the pattern of Scripture.
When Jesus was talking to the crowds about what He requires of His followers—He tells them to stop…and to consider what is required of one of my disciples…
”Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?” (See Luke 14:28-33 for the context). It is clear in this section of scripture that Jesus is asking us “to think about/ to consider” the truth of His word…and then to act in obedience—by faith! Again, this seems to be the pattern of scripture—we are called to “consider a biblical truth” about God and Kingdom living—and then to act upon it…in faith. Is God not pleased with such faith? He is! He loves obedience that is rooted in faith…and He is pleased by it!
There is also another aspect of faith that is a wonderful motivator for Christian obedience…and it has to do with a Godly fear and reverence for God—which again is by faith. Let me explain… God is Holy—and He calls His children to Holy living. When a Christian begins to live with sin in their lives—then our Loving (and Holy) heavenly father will discipline us out of love. I have felt the “ouch” of His loving discipline—and when my carnal nature starts to get intoxicated with ungodly thoughts—it usually isn’t thinking about His grace that causes my mind to become sober—it is the loving-disciple of a Holy God that sobers me!! I remember His discipline—and that “motivates me” to choose life…rather than death! Again, this act of obedience is by faith in God and on His word….and God IS pleased when we respond to Him in this manner!
As this debate continues–let me encourage you to consider the whole nature of God and His word. There is so much that is available to motivate us to live faithfully and obediently to God. I don’t know about you—but I need it ALL. I struggle with obedience—and the more I have to draw from in this battle—the better I can seek to serve and obey my king! God delights in obedience—and He provides us with all that we need to accomplish His will! May our hearts look to Him, the author and finisher of our faith– for wisdom, strength, and for changed hearts that long to obey!