In the last post my goal was to show that the only engine that will be strong enough to pull the heavy train of Christian living to its destination is the Gospel. Any other engine substitute will putter out (I am using the word engine as an illustration for motive or fuel for living the Christian life).
In my short twelve years of being a Christian I have seen a lot of engine substitutes. Most of the time they are used with right motives. It seems that many believers don’t know what else to do. I have seen believers use: fear, guilt, condemnation, consequences, motivational speaking, hype and excitement, rules and the list goes on as ultimate ways to make Christians behave in a certain way.
But let’s be honest, how long do any of those motivations really last? A parent who uses fear always to motivate their children will not see them reach the goal. Most likely by 15 years of age, parents have already lost their child. Pastors who always use guilt and condemnation to cause the sheep to love will kill any sense of joy and community within the flock. Organizations (camps, conferences, etc.) that use hype and excitement will lose their grasp as soon the excitement fades or a new fad comes along (in my experience, the faster the hype comes the quicker the crash). I think you get the point.
Please don’t misunderstand me, I do think there is a place for most, if not all, of those things. They all have their role, it just should not be intended as an ultimate means to accomplishing the task set before us.
But how can we see true reform from the inside (our hearts) out (our behavior)? How can parents capture their children’s hearts? How can pastors motivate their sheep to love and obey the Great Shepherd? How can organizations properly motivate a genuine joy?
The Apostle John writes, “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). The word “because” there informs us of the purpose or reason for our love.
The Apostle Paul states, “Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?—just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Here Paul links the faith that justifies as the same way one continues in the faith (sanctifies). In other words, the same faith that brings you into the faith is the same faith that aids you in the walk of faith (see also Col 1:11-14 where Paul teaches that we are strengthened “with all power” as we give thanks for all we have in Christ).
The Apostle Peter teaches, “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Peter believed that the way for faithful obedience in suffering was by setting our minds on grace! Please don’t breeze past this truth. The Gospel tells us that Jesus is coming back for us and He brings His reward with Him!
Here’s the point. The only real motivation for us, that God has given, is all the blessings promised and accomplished in Jesus Christ! And it is more than enough. The good fight of faith is striving to truly realize all that is promised in Jesus is ours if we simply trust in Him!