Doing the Right Thing – Motivated by Our New Identity

Analogies, Motivation, Thoughts, Walking in the New Nature
We come now to our last installment of how believers are motivated to righteous living; because this is who we are.  In our new identity as holy and beloved saints, righteous living is what is expected of us.  It is what should come natural to us.  It fits who we really are. In Romans chapter 6, the apostle Paul answers the question, "If greater sin brings greater grace, should we continue in sin?" with an emphatic "No".  And Paul's "No" is based on our new identity in Christ.  The apostle takes the rest of chapter 6 to explain.  When you became a believer, you appropriated the fact - and it is a fact - that your old sin nature died with Christ on the cross.  Your sin nature is dead. …
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Doing the Right Thing – Motivated to Communicate the Good News

Motivation, Thoughts
Another motivator to live righteously is our desire to communicate the gospel message.  As we have all heard many times, our actions can be just as powerful as our words in sharing the truth of the gospel.  So we want our actions to reflect the proper message; to reflect what God has done in Christ to rescue us. Our verbal presentation of the gospel is soaked in the supernatural, as it should be.  From the miracles of Jesus to His resurrection from the dead to His identity as the Son of God, we emphasize the supernatural over and over.  But in our living-the-Christian-life communication of the gospel, we somehow like to leave the supernatural out.  We advertise the Christian life as a path of working hard to stay on the straight…
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Doing the Right Thing – Motivated by Receiving a Blessing

Motivation, Thoughts
In His famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus takes the crowd's expectations, "You have heard it said...Do not commit murder...Do not commit adultery...Give your wife a certificate of divorce...Keep your vows...An eye for an eye...Love your neighbor and hate your enemy" (Mt 5), and kicks it up a notch with, "But I say...Don't be angry with your brother...Don't lust after a woman... Don't divorce...Let your 'Yes' be 'Yes' without the necessity of a vow...Repay evil with good...Love your enemies" (Mt 5).  Jesus takes the law of consequence of the Old Testament and replaces it with the law of love.  The law of love is the new expectation for would-be followers of Jesus. In the Luke chapter 6 version of this teaching, Jesus includes an interesting promise.  After instructing His disciples in…
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Doing the Right Thing – Motivated to be a Clean Vessel for Service

Motivation, Thoughts
Listen to what God says about how we prepare ourselves to be an instrument in His hands.  "Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.  Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble.  If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work" (II Tim 2:19-21).  When we cleanse ourselves from worldliness and wickedness, we will be ready to be put into service for the Lord. An illustration we often used to explain this concept to our children goes like this.  Once we become a…
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Doing the Right Thing – Motivated by Future Reward

Motivation, Thoughts
Many times in the gospels, Jesus lifts up the hope of future rewards as a legitimate motivation for good works.  And the reward theme continues in the rest of the New Testament.  Let's see what Jesus and the apostles had to say about keeping our eye on the prize. "Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Mt 5:11-12).  Persecuted for your faith = REWARD. "Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven...when you give to…
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Doing the Right Thing – Motivated by God’s Approval

Motivation, Thoughts
In I Timothy 2:15 we read, "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth."  When God views our "work" - our lifestyle, our choices, and our actions - will we be approved or ashamed? I can't help but view this verse through my own vocational experience.  A significant part of my job as a geophysicist involves presenting my ideas to management.  When my work has been thorough and thoughtful and complete, my work (and to some degree myself) have been "approved".  But I have also felt the "ashamed" of a thrown-together, poorly-thought-out presentation.  If our earthly bosses can engender these feelings of accomplishment or shame, how much more important is it that our work is…
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Doing the Right Thing – Motivated to be an Example to Others

Motivation, Thoughts
One of the functions of the body of Christ is the opportunity to encourage and build up each other.  And one of the best ways to do this is through our righteous living and the example it sets.  The theme of being an example and following an example is a prominent one in the New Testament. "Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us" (Phil 3:17). "You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation and with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all believers in Macedonia and Achaia" (I Thess 1:6-7). "For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because…
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Doing the Right Thing – Motivated by God’s Reputation

Motivation, Thoughts
Another motivation to do the right thing is our desire to enhance God's reputation.  At first glance we may to ask ourselves, "Is it really possible that the Creator of the world, the Sustainer of the world, and the Author of our salvation needs any help from us on the reputation front?"  The answer is yes.  Just as the children in a family contribute to the family's reputation, so also, our actions either impugn or enhance God's reputation on the earth. The church is the body of Christ.  The church is the physical representation of Jesus to a watching world.  And when they look at us, the community of believers, what do they see?  One of our motivations for righteous living is to accurately reflect the character of our Father…
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Doing the Right Thing – Motivated by Loyalty

Motivation, Thoughts
Serving God out of loyalty is very similar to serving God out of duty.  Our allegiance to Christ is a great motivator for doing the right thing.  In II Timothy, the apostle Paul develops the idea of a "worthy soldier" who serves the Lord out of loyalty.  "The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful (or loyal) men, who will be able to teach others also.  Suffer hardship with me, as a worthy soldier of Christ Jesus.  No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier" (II Tim 2:2-4). Now Paul is not forbidding us from cooking our meals, paying our bills, going…
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Doing the Right Thing – Motivated by Duty

Motivation, Thoughts
Jesus said, "Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep.  Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, 'Come along now and sit down to eat'?  Would he not rather say, 'Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink'?  Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do?  So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty' " (Luke 17:7-10). The concept of initiating or finishing a task out of a sense of duty is not very common in our self-actualization culture.  By self-actualization, I…
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Doing the Right Thing – Motivated by Love for God

Motivation, Thoughts
Another motivation for doing the right thing is our desire to show our love for God.  Love is not always something easily explained or measured.  It is not always easy to measure how deep and unconditional our love can go.  But God has given us some clear guidelines in His Word for how our love for Him informs our actions.  Here are a few: "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments" (Jn 14:15).  There can't be a much clearer connection between our walk, our actions, and how they demonstrate our love for God.  "He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love Him, and disclose Myself to him"…
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Doing the Right Thing – Motivated by Gratitude to God

Motivation, Thoughts
God has given new covenant believers many positive motivations for doing the right thing. One of these is obeying God out of a sense of gratitude, walking in a worthy manner out of thanksgiving to God.  Being thankful for God's love, mercy, salvation, blessing, guidance, and protection motivates us to want to please God by our actions. One of the attitudes that shines through in Paul's writings in the New Testament is his thanksgiving.  The apostle expresses his gratefulness for fellow believers (I Thess 1:2), for God's leading (II Cor 2:14), for our future victory over death (I Cor 15:57), for our present victory over sin's power (Rom 6:17), for the message being accepted (I Thess 2:13), and finally cries out, "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!" (II…
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Do the Right Thing

Motivation, Thoughts, Walking in the New Nature
What motivates new covenant believers to do the right thing?  That is, without the fear of the Law, what causes us to walk the straight and narrow?  What motivates us to fly right?  Can the same grace that secured our initial salvation also inform our actions?  Is grace just a theological concept or does it also empower us to righteous living? Grace and godly living go hand-in-hand.  "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless…
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