Doing the Right Thing – Motivated by Love for God

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” (Jn 14:21).  Not only do we have the motivation that if we love God, we will keep His commandments, but we also have the promise of the blessing of being loved by God and having Him disclose more of Himself to us.  And finally, “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love” (Jn 15:10).  Loving God and obeying His commandments go hand in hand.

Continuing the theme, being obedient to the “one anothers” of the New Testament demonstrates our love for God, especially the command to love one another.  “But whoever has the world’s goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?  Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth” (I Jn 3:17-18).  “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.  And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also” (I Jn 4:20-21).  We demonstrate our love for God by loving each other.

Coming full circle on the theme of obeying God out of our love for Him, we arrive at I John chapter 5.  “By this we know we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments.  For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome” (I Jn 5:2-3).  When we have a love relationship with God, the Father, His commands are not burdensome.  Instead, there is peace, comfort, and joy in obeying the Love of our life.

Doing the Right Thing – Motivated by Gratitude to God

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 Cor 9:15).  Paul also encourages us to follow his example of thanksgiving by “giving thanks in everything” (I Thess 5:18).

Right actions follow from our thanksgiving.  “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude” (Col 2:6-7).  Our “overflowing gratitude” energizes our “walk in Him”.

Continuing this thought in the book of Hebrews, we read, “Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe” (Heb 12:28).  We show our gratitude to God when we offer to God our acceptable or reasonable service; our obedience to all He commands.

Do the Right Thing

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 deed and purify for Himself a people of His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:11-14).

Somehow, God’s grace not only paid the penalty for our sin, but “in the present age” is “redeeming us from every lawless deed”.  That is, His grace is currently setting us free from sin’s power and instead of leaving us to practice lawlessness is actually making us “zealous for good deeds”.  God’s grace is instructing us in godly living.

Part of God’s grace in reaching out to us is the fact that God has given us all kinds of motivation to do the right thing in His Word.  God has not left us with instructions to obey “because I told you to”.  Instead, God, in His gracious interaction with His children, has given us many, many words of encouragement and admonition as to why we should obey Him.  It is a picture of God’s grace that we are not left in the dark regarding what obedience looks like or why we should do it.

When our children were very young, I used to think when we faced various discipline challenges that this would be much easier when they can speak in clear sentences, string thoughts together, and we can reason and discuss what is happening here.  Was I in for a surprise.  The discipline actually became harder when they learned how to debate and argue and ask why and logically explain why their upcoming discipline was not warranted.  I still remember one of them wanting to discuss the benefits of grounding instead of what was about to happen and I couldn’t figure out when they had even heard the term at such a young age.

But God is not put off by our “why?”.  He welcomes our inquiry.  By His grace, as a tender Father encouraging His children, He has given us explanation and positive motivation to obey Him.  Over the next several weeks, we will look at some of the high motives for action given in the Bible.  These are not only for our own encouragement, but are excellent Scriptures to teach your children as motivation for doing the right thing.