Fight for Joy! Blog
Where Jesus Changes Everything
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint. For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living” (Romans 5:15; 14:7-9). What is the primary motive for Christian obedience? I posed this question to everyone who receives Thoughts to Ponder. Several responded. The answers given were interesting. However, none were surprising. The reasons given included fear, blessings, self-preservation, answered prayer, avoiding guilt, and gratitude. In fact, in one way or another, almost everyone reported gratitude to God for all He had done for them, as the primary motive for obedience.
This is interesting. It is interesting because the Bible says very little, if anything, about gratitude being the primary motive for obedience. Consider the Hebrew children in the Old Testament. More often than not, they disobeyed God, despite all the good things God had done for them. However, the Bible never cites ingratitude as the reason for their disobedience. It was always their lack of faith. In Numbers 14:11, God asks, “How long will they not believe in Me, despite all the signs I have performed in their midst?” So then, if gratitude is not the primary motive for obedience, what is? Did you notice the interweaving of faith and grace in the passages from Romans at the beginning of this article? I believe the primary motive for Christian obedience, as taught in the Scriptures, is that of faith. In other words, I obey God because I believe God. Such thinking can be summed up this way: Do I really and truly believe God is who He says He is and that He will do what He has said He will do? If the answer is yes, then by His grace, I will obey. If it is anything other than yes, then I will begin to struggle with my obedience and run the risk of disobedience.
No matter how grateful I am for those things God has done for me in the past, if I do not believe Him for the future, then obedience is unlikely. The writer of Hebrews says, “Without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (11:6). Paul wrote that our introduction into grace was by faith with the result that we would hope in God. What is this hope? I believe it is faith in God for the fulfillment of His promises to us in His word. It is faith in God for the future, since the life we live will be lived in the future. All this can be wrapped up in the word hope. It is the essential role of hope that sustains us in our obedience to God, particularly when obedience to God might require me to go into some very dangerous situation and ultimately lay down my life.
I was working with the chapel youth group recently and posed a scenario where one might find himself or herself looking down the barrel of a gun, with a terrorist on the other end who says, “Reject Christ and live or profess Him and die.” My question was what would motivate you to profess Christ in that moment, knowing that doing so would probably result in your death? I was absolutely blown away by one young girl, who is only 14, spoke up and said, “Faith.” It was as simple as that. Not gratitude, not fear, not self-preservation, not guilt, but faith. Only one who really and truly believes that God is who He says He is and will do what He has said He will do, will be motivated by faith. Certainly there is a place for gratitude. But that gratitude should motivate us, not to obey, but to believe that the God who has shown us His grace in the past, will continue to show us His grace in the future. And that belief (faith) should motivate us to obey.
You are welcome to leave comments and you don't have to necessarily agree with me. However, I expect a civil tone and charitable spirit. We can disagree with one another without being disagreeable. "Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt." (Colossians 4:6)
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