Tuesday, June 7, 2016

It's about consequences, not shame.

Motivation to obey Christ has *everything to do with consequences and nothing to do with guilt or shame. God doesn't chide, shame or reject us when we do wrong. We should never seek to obey God out of shame or fear of rejection but it is certainly wise to do so out of fear of correction.

A truly loving parent will always "spank" (i.e. correct) their child when they do things harmful to others or themselves. And it will hurt, but that is not rejection. In fact it's just to opposite. Those God loves he corrects. It is precisely because God wants what's best for us that he corrects us.  

A truly loving parent never stops loving us no matter how stupid we act. Are they greatly grieved by our poor choices? Definitely. Angry? Possibly. But not at us but for our sake and that of others. If God is mad, it is only because we are doing things that are destructive to ourselves and **others.  He is not mad at us but angry over the harm we do to ourselves and to others. God is for us, not against us.

Not just destructive to us...

Disobedience is also dishonoring to God. To treat God with disrespect or low regard says to others God must not be that loving or great. This is a problem but not for God, but for those who think God is not worth pursuing due to our not pursuing him. 

Others ask:

If God is loving, how can those who call him father be so unloving e.g. how can such a loving parent have such a spoiled brat for a kid?

If he is great how can those who call him father be pursuing things other than God and finding greater meaning, joy and life in them instead of him?  

If God is the greatest, wisest, most powerful and loving being of all, why aren't his children pursuing him as if this were so? 

We must ask ourselves, if we are loved by God, why are we so unloving. Why doesn't his love create in us a love and compassion for others similar to the love and compassion he shows us? 

It is only because we don't understand the nature of his love and how great it is.

Love as well as consequences should move us

What about our love, gratitude or faith; don't they have something to do with why we do or don't obey God? Of course those who complain about the believers lack of love use this as an excuse and justification for their own indifference to God. 

But in reality they refuse to see the problem is with us, not God; with our unbelief and refusal to enter into and participate in God's love, wisdom and power extended to us in Christ, not because these aren't fully extended to us as his adopted children i.e. the problem lies within us and not within God.

Faith is always a part of the process of obedience and as we mature and experience God's love, wisdom and power we begin to discover from first hand experience he is good, all the time and worthy of our complete trust and faithfulness. In the hard times and blessed times he is always good, loving and patient. This creates gratitude on our part and a response of love to his love, wisdom and goodness toward us. These always create a growing confidence in the goodness of his directions and his ways of handling our lack of trust in him.


*I don't mean "everything" in the sense it is the only thing that motivates us to pursue God. Love, trust and a desire to honor (glorify) God are key motivators as well. These fall on the positive side of what moves us to pursue God. I am referring to negative side. When it comes to the reason we are not to sin, it should be to avoid the pain of consequences, not the shame of failure.  

** We often assume he's against us if he is for others, but he's for *both us and them; just like he is for both himself and us. Our happiness is intertwined with the happiness of others. God first, then others.

We are interrelational beings because God is an interrelational being as Father, Son and Spirit.

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For a further discussion on the uselessness of feeling guilt and shame click here.

For a further discussion on why God hates evil click here

For a further discussion on an "anatomy of motivation" to obedience click here



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Grace to you
Jim Deal