Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Current Study: Advent
Today’s Topic: Grace Motivates
Scripture Reading: Titus 2:11-14 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.
It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
What motivates you to do what you do? What does it take to give you the ambition to want to do more? These are not just irrelevant questions with insignificant answers. Each one of us is driven by something. Whether we do it carefully and consciously or automatically as a result of years of learned behavior, we all make choices that evaluate the product before we enter the process. Human nature is consistent and motivates us with outcomes.
I believe that the primary outcome that our human nature uses to motivate us is acceptance. Whether we are lost in our sin and seeking a way to cover it with performance, or whether we are saved but continue to try to earn the favor of God and people with our spiritual knowledge and legalistic performance, our flesh overwhelms us with the need for acceptance. In the case of the unsaved person, I can understand their pride that manifests itself in performance to earn acceptance. It’s the only hope they know. But in the case of a saved person, especially in myself, I’m convicted by the power of pride I see when we are motivated to serve our Lord by anything that even remotely resembles the pursuit of acceptance. Unsaved people live to earn acceptance. Saved people are to be free from that bondage and are able to live because they are accepted.
Let me speak to what I think is probably the majority that are reading this – the saved people. What motivates you to serve Jesus? What motivates you to want to know Him more intimately? What motivates you to grow in your knowledge of doctrine? What motivates you to live a holy life? What motivates you to be involved in leadership in your church? Come on, be honest, what motivates you?
I confess I’m motivated far too much by the need for acceptance and to earn the approval of people. The measuring stick of my value is severely warped. I don’t think I’m all that unique. Take at look at how you determine your value as a person. Reflect on how your need to measure your value motivates your choices and behaviors. Go ahead – dig deeper and evaluate how you live your spiritual life and you might discover that your maturity is being measured with a warped stick.
- You take pride in your theological position because it adds self-determined value to your life and meets some need you have to prove yourself by improving your position.
- You harbor resentment against others who don’t agree with you because you know you are right, and being right means you have value.
- You feel obligated to serve in the church because you’ve experienced the guilt trip that comes with most appeals for help. You know that if you don’t serve you’re not as valued as those who do.
- You believe that your acceptance in the church is somehow connected to the number of ways you are involved. You sense the existence of an inner circle of the elite and wish you could be in it.
- You strive to live a life of victory over the passions of the flesh and to be upright and Godly, all because you want to feel good about yourself and want others to notice how faithful you are to God.
Now compare your current motivations to the one and only motivation God provides for us – His grace. God reached down from eternity and connected with us at the point of our desperation in sin. God’s grace motivated Jesus to give up His value and become nothing so that we who were nothing could have God’s value. (Philippians 2:4-8) Because of Jesus we who were unacceptable have been accepted. And it is that same grace that is our motivation to live for and serve the One who saved us.
It is the grace of God that teaches us to say no to the passions of life. It is the grace of God that teaches us to live righteous lives. It is the grace of God that makes us eager to serve Him. It is the grace of God that has unconditionally accepted us and qualified us for all eternity to be joint heirs with Jesus of all things. Grace motivates from a position of permanent acceptance. Grace motivates us to serve because we are already valued and have no need to earn more. The grace of God should be and can be your only answer to the question of motivation.
But is it?