What Motivates Us?

I used to be much more serious about my workout routine and especially my nutrition program. I even shared what I had learned with those who wanted to live healthier lifestyles. Though I stopped short of receiving my strength and conditioning certification, I was always quick to offer my “expertise” to those who were simply confused by all the workout fads and diets that were popular at the moment. Before I started someone on a program, I would usually ask “Why?” I wanted to know the reason why these people wanted to work out, that way I would know how hard they were willing to work to achieve their fitness goal. Those with weak motivation, like wanting to lose a couple of pounds for summer, usually quit when things got tough. And so I urged those I was helping to search for a deeper reason because the right motivation was just as vital as good nutrition. This isn’t a hard concept to understand. If this is important physically, how much more important should this be spiritually. If our motivation is weak, we will not be able to overcome life’s strongest obstacles and temptations. Motivation is defined as the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way. So I must ask, what motivates us to be Christians? Is it to reach the goal of heaven? Is it because of fear of judgment? Fear of God? Surely these factors can all do well in serving as a good reason why we follow our Lord Jesus Christ, and whatever motivation we have right now, it is essential to at least maintain it while we search for higher motivation. Paul found the ultimate motivation: “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” (2Corinthians 5:14, 15). Love is the highest peak of motivation. It was the motivation behind God’s plan of salvation for us, which involved sending His only Son to die for us. Keep in mind that this sacrifice was made while we were still enemies of God (Romans 5:8). It’s one thing to grasp our minds on the concept that love like God’s exists, and it’s another thing to see it demonstrated by Jesus Christ. It wasn’t the nails, but love that kept Jesus on that cross. This degree of love should compel us to live in service to Christ just like Paul did. Paul was “compelled” by the love of Christ to work as hard as he did. Other translations use “control” (ESV) or “constrain” (ASV) and we get the idea that Paul is basically saying that love “forces” us to live for Christ. We must take notice that love is an action word. It would be a mistake to profess our love for God but by our actions demonstrate otherwise (1John 2:4; 3:18; 4:20). As Matthew Henry put it, “Alas, how many show the worthlessness of their professed faith and love, by living to themselves and to the world!” Our gratitude for God’s love and mercy should lead us to no other action besides obedience to His will, love towards one another, and even love towards our enemies. Being motivated by love for God is a powerful driving force in the lives of God’s children! We absolutely should work with diligence in establishing this motivation for our Christianity. It won’t be easy, but it’s well worth it. Times ahead will not be easy. Trials, obstacles, and hard temptations will always lie before us and we’re going to have to call on our motivation to get us through. But if love for God isn’t our motivation right now, let’s at least strive to make it our motivation, even if it takes a lifetime.

“We love, because He first loved us” (1John 4:19)