What’s your motivation to obey God?  Some people seem to be motivated to obey God more out of fear (fear of losing their salvation, fear of being punished, fear of going to hell, fear of bad things happening) than out of love and gratitude for God’s mercy and goodness in Christ. Why does it matter? Why does it matter what motivates you to please the Lord? Why is it important to be motivated by God’s mercy and not just by fear? If we are primarily motivated by fear:

1.Our motivation will lose its power over time. Fear as an emotion is very draining. It moves you to great feats at first, but eventually is exhausting. People who live in great fear experience a numbing effect after a while.  Slowly, one becomes too tired to care, indifferent to what happens. Fear-based religion therefore often tends to be short-lived.

2. Also, fear-based obedience has a great deal of trouble with repentance. When we are motivated by fear, we believe that somewhere there is a “line”; if we sin too much, we cross it, and God will condemn us. But we don’t know where that line is. As a result, repentance is not a sweet thing but very bitter. We don’t have the security to admit our sins for fear of reprisals from God, so we do a lot of rationalizing and blaming.

3. Fear-based obedience will always make it difficult to endure suffering or troubles. The fear-based person will either think: God is paying me back! God has abandoned me! Maybe I crossed the line this time…or: This isn’t fair! I obey so that God will bless me, so that these bad things won’t happen! In other words, despair or bitterness will be the result of suffering if one’s Christian life is fear-based.  Tim Keller’s Romans 8-16 For You


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What’s your motivation to obey God?

New Hope Presbyterian Church • Bridgeton, NJ

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