Motives For Obedience

Have you ever given much thought to why you do what you do as a Christian? Many Christians mistakenly think that the only acceptable reason to serve God is because we love Him (Matt. 22:37). While love for God is certainly a Biblical and worthwhile motive for service, it is far from being the only motive mentioned in Scripture. Consider several Biblical motives for serving God:

Expression of love — Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Genuine Christianity is characterized by a faith that works through love (Gal. 5:6). Our desire to please God because we love Him is certainly a high and noble motive to serve Him with our whole heart (Deut. 6:4-6; cf. 1 Jn. 5:3).

Increased effectiveness for God’s use — Another motive for obeying God’s commands is that we desire to be used more fully in His service. Paul writes about Christians who cleanse themselves from sin in order to be, “a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work” (2 Tim. 2:21).

Fear of God — Some would undoubtedly object to this idea, but God clearly intends that we have a healthy fear of Him. The Hebrews writer warns us not to draw back from serving God, “for our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29). When Ananias and Sapphira were destroyed for lying to the apostles, “great fear came upon all the church, and upon all who heard these things” (Acts 5:5, 11).

Desire for influence on others — One great motive for serving God is the realization that our lives touch and influence others. Jesus commanded His disciples to, “let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). Peter wrote of how Christian wives could win their unbelieving husbands through their example, “without a word” (1 Pet. 3:1-2).

The blessing of a clear conscience — When we understand God’s plan for our justification and we serve God acceptably, we receive the blessing of a clear conscience. We are to be subject to authority for conscience’ sake (Rom. 13:5). The purpose of God’s commandment is, “love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5).

A deeper walk with God — The more consistently we obey God’s commandments, the deeper and richer our walk with Him becomes. The Psalmist declared, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear” (Psalm 66:18). Conversely, however, when we obey we can declare, “Blessed be God, who has not turned away from my prayer, nor His mercy from me!” (Psalm 66:20).

Peace of mind and Joy unspeakable — Obedience leads to blessings not just in the next life, but in this one as well. Jesus spoke of the Christian life as the, “abundant life” (Jn. 10:10). Peter writes of Christians possessing, “joy inexpressible” (1 Pet. 1:8), and Paul wrote of peace, “that passes all understanding” (Phil. 4:7). Such are the blessings of the one who truly obeys God.

Delight in doing what’s right — We are to serve God because we delight in doing what is good and right (Psalm 40:8, 37:4). Christians are to dwell on things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, and virtuous (Phil. 4:8). We serve God because we delight in doing the right thing. What are your motives for serving God? —JB