Oct 9, 2014
What should we do when we don’t want to pray and read God’s word? Or when we don’t desire fellowship? Or when we have no interest in sharing the gospel or battling sin?
How should we motivate ourselves?
A common answer is that we should be motivated by gratitude. That since God has done so much for us, it’s only right for us to give obedience back to him.
But I can’t find any place where that’s taught in the Bible. (If you can, please let me know.)
I’m not saying gratitude is unimportant. It is essential that we see all God has done for us in Christ and respond with heartfelt gratitude, praise, and worship.
But as far as I can tell, God never motivates us with gratitude.
So How DOES God Motivate Us?
Passage after passage shows God motivating us with the promise of reward.
This is not the reward of health and wealth. It’s the infinitely more satisfying reward of beholding God’s glory in Christ (Hebrews 12:14, for example).
Nor does this mean our obedience earns rewards. It means that because of Jesus’ shed blood and perfect righteousness, God mercifully chooses to reward our undeserving faith and obedience with more joy in him.
And in the Bible the main way God motivates us is with this reward. He promises that the more we trust and obey him, the more joy we will have in his glory now and forever.
Read these passages, and ask yourself – What does God want you to be motivated by?
Matthew 6:3-4 — But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Matthew 6:6 — But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Matthew 6:17-18 — But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Matthew 10:42 — And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.
Mark 9:41 — For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward.
Luke 6:22-23– Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.
Luke 6:35 — But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.
Colossians 3:23-24 — Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
Hebrews 10:35 — Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.
Hebrews 11:6 — And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
Hebrews 11:26 — [Moses] considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.
2 John 1:8 — Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward.
Your Car Needs Fuel, Not Just a Gas Tank
In passage after passage God motivates us with the promise of reward.
But many of us try to motivate ourselves with gratitude, and ignore the reward. The tragic result is that our Christian lives are weaker than they could be.
But this doesn’t mean we ignore gratitude. Gratitude is crucial, because when we are grateful for God’s past faithfulness, that strengthens our faith in God’s promise of future reward. As a result, we will be motivated.
Think of the Christian life as a car which runs on the gasoline of rewards. And think of gratitude as the gas tank which holds that gasoline in your car.
If you have the gas tank (gratitude), but no gasoline (rewards), your car won’t even start.
But if you try to fill your car up with gasoline (rewards) without having a gas tank (gratitude), the gas will pour onto the asphalt, and your car still won’t start.
So put the gas tank in place by nurturing gratitude. Then fill up the gas tank with the gasoline of God’s promised reward.
Vroooom. Your car will start right up.
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And here are some related posts you might find helpful –
- Someone Asks “Should We Need Rewards for Motivation?”
- What It Means to Do Something FOR God (You Might Be Surprised)
- Jesus Gives Us Reasons to Obey
- C. S. Lewis on Motivation, Self-Denial, and Rewards
(Picture by KOMUnews, and found on everystockphoto.com.)