The Importance of Motivation
In our relationship with Jesus, it is important to realize that he does not begin with the call to obey. He calls us to come, to follow, to believe, to abide and over time he calls us to also obey. The order is important. It is similar in any relationship. God delivered the nation of Israel out of Egypt to be his special people. Only later did he give them the Ten Commandments, as a sort of covenant with his people. In a similar way, when going out with someone, you don’t begin with the marriage vows! You first establish the relationship. Then, as trust and commitment develop, marriage may occur in which there is a sharing of vows with each other.
We do not obey God’s commands “in order to” be loved, accepted and forgiven. That would be works righteousness, and none of our good deeds can ever measure up to God’s standards (Rom.3:23. Eph.2:8-10). However, in Christ, and all because of grace, we “already are” loved, accepted and forgiven – as a free gift! Once this truth touches your heart, you choose to obey “because of” what God has already done for you out of his great love. Obedience should be a natural response to the love God has for us. It is the ultimate act of worship.
WHY do we obey? Because we love Jesus and believe that his ways are best. He is the wisest person who ever lived and following him, though not necessarily easy, represents what is ultimately the best thing for our lives.
Obedience involves an act of our will, the enablement of the Spirit and the renewing of our mind. As we more consistently obey Jesus’ commands, we start to grow and change. We develop the character of Christ. Faith, hope and love emerge. The fruit of the Spirit starts to grow. Our lives start to reflect Christ more and more, offering an attractive alternative to the spirit of the age.
Some Reflection Questions
- Why is it easier to accept Jesus as Saviour than it is to accept him as Lord of our lives?
- What part does surrender and “taking up our cross daily” play in our call to obey?
- How do we avoid the two extremes of (a) being a Christian who is not a good example of Jesus to others and (b) of becoming Pharisees who focus so much on keeping rules and regulations that they miss a genuine relationship with God and the fact that love is the summary of the entire law?
- A disciple of Jesus is called to become like Jesus – in character and mission. How does this happen? What is God’s part and what is our part?
- In order to obey the commands of Jesus, we need to know what he actually asked us to do. Reflect on the role that Bible reading, especially that of the Gospels which contain the teaching of Jesus, plays in the development of our lives as disciples.
- How can we better bridge the “knowing-doing gap?” Read and reflect on James 1:22-25.