We love (Him) as a result of His loving us first (1 John 4:19).
At a high school graduation, one student was overheard to remark: "Yeah, I finally made it. It's a good thing, too. If I had blown it, my parents would have killed me!"
In contrast, during the ceremony one of the student speakers, a beautiful, black-haired Oriental girl who had been born in the Far East, declared through her tears, "I want to express my deepest appreciation to my American parents for loving me and for giving me the opportunity to get an education in this great land. I want to do everything I can to show them how much I love them and to make them proud of me."
What a difference in motivation between these two students! The first student obviously lived in fear of his parents, while the second student loved, understood, and appreciated what her parents had done for her.
We need to make sure that our motivation for serving God is right.
While we must always have a deep reverential fear, or respect, for God, that is not the proper motivation for serving Him. Such motivation can lead to legalism, frustration, condemnation and torment, knowing that we can never please Him with our meager human works. "Fear hath torment" (1 John 4:18, KJV).
The proper motivation for serving God is our love for Him, first understanding His great love for us, and wanting to respond with our love for Him. Jesus said that loving God is the greatest commandment: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength" (Mark 12:20, NIV).
John also says, "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us" (1 John 4:18-19).
As a starting point for discipleship, every new Christian should be first grounded in God's great love, as demonstrated by the covenant He has made with us in the blood of His only Son, and His amazing mercy and grace, offered to us by faith. That will help our ongoing relationship with Him and all our service to Him have the proper motivation -- a response to His love first shown to us.
Yours for fulfilling the Great Commission each year until our Lord returns,
The late Dr. Bill Bright was Founder and President/Chairman Emeritus of Campus Crusade for Christ, an organization which began as a campus ministry in 1951 and now has more than 27,000 full-time staff and up to 500,000 trained volunteer staff in 196 countries in areas representing 99.6 percent of the world's population. In the past 50 years, Campus Crusade for Christ has seen approximately 6 billion exposures to the gospel worldwide. The film, "JESUS," which Bright conceived and funded through Campus Crusade for Christ, is the most widely translated and viewed film of any type ever produced. Since its use began in 1980, the film has been translated into 839 languages and viewed or listened to by over 5.7 billion people in 228 countries. Dr. Bright was also the author of more than fifty books. Visit campuscrusade.com for more details
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