May 3, 2012
Imagine coming upon someone who’s pushing his car along the road.
You assume he’s out of gas.
So you stop, roll down the window, and offer to drive him to the nearest gas station.
But think of how shocked you’d be if he said –
Oh, that’s OK, I don’t use gas. I just get to where I want to go by pushing my car.
You’d think that was crazy.
Because cars are not supposed to be pushed — by us.
They are supposed to be powered — by gasoline.
But too often that’s exactly how we try to obey God.
By what power do we obey God?
Jesus doesn’t just give us commands which he wants us to push ourselves to obey.
He also gives us gasoline — reasons and promises and warnings in God’s Word – by which the Holy Spirit empowers us to obey.
When we pray over the reasons, promises, and warnings in Scripture — the Spirit changes our hearts, motivates our hearts, energizes our hearts so we want to obey God.
How do you obey God?
Most Christians know God’s commands.
But do we know the reasons, promises, and warnings accompanying those commands?
For example — we all know that Jesus commands us to love our enemies.
But do we know the reason Jesus gives for that command — the reason which He wants to motivate us — the reason by which the Spirit will empower us?
What is the reason? “Love your enemies … and your reward will be great” (Luke 6:35).
But if we haven’t known that was the reason — then that reason has not empowered our obedience, which means our obedience has probably involved more self-pushing than Spirit-empowering.
How to obey God
When Jesus gave the command to love our enemies, He did not just tell us what to do — He also told us how.
He wants us to start by considering the greatness of the reward — the joy of seeing Jesus Christ face to face — knowing Him, fellowshiping with Him, worshiping Him.
When we consider the reward of seeing Jesus — the Holy Spirit will change our hearts.
He will satisfy us with the joy of Jesus, and stir us to want more of the joy of Jesus.
The result? The pain our enemies have inflicted will be so comforted by the joy of Jesus — and our hearts will be so filled with the joy of Jesus — that we will overflow with love to our enemies.
This is not easy
I’m not saying it’s easy to obey God.
It takes effort.
But the effort doesn’t focus on making ourselves do what we don’t want to do.
The effort focuses on trusting God’s reasons, promises, and warnings until — by the Spirit’s work — we are full of joy in Jesus and want more joy in Jesus.
When we are full of joy in Jesus and want more joy in Jesus we will obey — every time.
That’s why wherever you see a command in God’s Word — if you look closely — you will find a reason, a promise, a warning nearby.
Because that’s the gasoline the Spirit will use to empower us to obey God.
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And here’s some related posts you might find helpful —
Why I'm Taking This Book Back To The Library
My Shocking Discovery About Motivation
How Can We Obey the Golden Rule?
Tchividjian and DeYoung on Obedience -- Can Piper Help?
C. S. Lewis on Motivation, Self-Denial, and Rewards
(Picture on everystockphoto by newtown grafitti.)