By Chris Stevenson
I’ve got a question for you. “What motivates you?”
Is it likes on Facebook?
Is it the approval of your friends?
Is it money?
Is it fame?
Is it respect?
Is it material things?
I think most of us are motivated by these sort of things in one way or another. We make decisions on what we are going to do, who we are going to interact with, how hard we are prepared to work etc. based on what our motivations are.
For example, I'm prepared to work public holidays even though I'd enjoy the day off because the extra money makes it a worthwhile trade off. The financial motivation outweighs the inconvenience of not having a day off.
On the flip side, I may decide to not do something, that I really want to, if I think my friends would disapprove.
The problem here is that these motivators are worldly in nature and I can't help but wonder what if Jesus had thought and acted out of this mindset. What if Jesus had decided that being crucified, sacrificing himself to forgive our sins and opening a way for relationship with God wasn't worth the pain, torment and death that He would suffer.
It's an extreme example however, we do or don't do things generally based on what we are going to get as a reward. Sometimes this reward is tangible, like money. Other times it's more abstract like the feeling you get for doing a good deed.
The issue is, there is a point for most of us where we decide that the 'reward' isn't worth the effort.
In a work situation, there is a point where the money we can earn may not be worth the amount of time you spend away from home, or the impact it has on family or social relationships.
In a volunteering sense there is a point we reach where the good feeling of helping others doesn't outweigh the time put in.
This is completely normal, we want what we do to have worth to us. The issue comes about when we start applying this same logic to what God asks us to do. I know I can admit that God has asked me to do various things over the years and I've decided that I didn't want to, that the cost or effort felt too high.
The thing is, God will ask us to do things that are hard, that are challenging, that will feel like that the rewards aren't worth the effort (if there's any reward at all). Sometimes God will ask us to do things that don't make sense to us and He just expects us to obey.
God asked Jesus to do something which he didn't want to do, to sacrifice himself and endure unimaginable pain, yet, the reward was also immense.
The truth is the reward that we look for has already been paid to us in full and then some. The reward is that we get to have relationship with God, we get to experience his presence, we get to be secure in the knowledge God has a plan for our lives.
For a better example of God just wanting us to obey even when it seems like He is asking too much we can look to Abraham in Genesis 22:2
Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
And Abraham obeyed. Now if you know the story God intervenes and stop Abraham killing Isaac, but Abraham didn't know that's how things would play out. Instead, without any reward or advantage to himself Abraham heard Gods' instruction and obeyed.
I wonder Church as we go about our day, how often do we make excuses for not listening to what God is telling us to do. How many times do we hear God and convince ourselves it isn't really Him because it's too difficult or too inconvenient?
Being a Christian is hard sometimes, following Jesus means we need to stop following our own wants and instead focus on where He wants to lead us, so as we go through our day, our week, our year I want to challenge us to stop and think on what is really guiding and motivating us. Is it the things that we want, or is it what God has asked us to do?