Motivation For Christian Conduct

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are . The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure (1John 3:1-3).

There is a motivation behind everything we do in this life. Nobody does anything without a motivation. There are various motivations for which people send their children to school for example. There are different motivations for taking on a particular job and not the other. Anything we do in this life is propelled by a motivation. Nobody acts in a vacuum. We all either act selfishly or selflessly and there is always a motive behind our actions, choices and decisions. Equally, Christian living or conduct has motivations. People profess to be Christians for various reasons which can either be right or wrong.

Wrong Motivations For Christian Conduct

Desire To Please Family Or Friends

Some people live their lives bound to the pressure of desiring  to please everyone around them. I recently heard the testimony of a preacher who has taken up the pulpit because his father has desired him to be a preacher in a particular denomination or his dad will disown him as a son. I don’t know how long this motivation will last when the storms of the pastorate rares its head. In like manner, many people who claim they are Christians live their suppose Christian lives to please others. However, when no one is watching, their lives and profession are in direct contrast. Paul makes a statement in Galatians 1:10b worth our attention in this discussion: “If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ“. Are you a Christian? Or a man pleaser? Note that our calling is to please God, not man.

Chiristianity is Socially Acceptable.

Ghana’s population presently is made up of 71.2% Christians (Pentecostal/Charismatic 28.3%, Protestant 18.4%, Catholic 13.1%, other 11.4%) ¹. I don’t believe these figures are a true reflection of our Christian population though. Should we probe further, the percentage will plummet. Now because of this mass identification with Christianity, many self-identify as Christians. Obviously, if one is not a Muslim or traditionalist or atheists but holds a belief in a divine being, they tend to believe they are Christians.

Desire For Improvement In Social Status

If you have noticed, much of what passes as Christian sermons in our country are simply motivational, inspirational pep talks devoid of the gospel. Many have believed in a gospel which promises them a better lot in their state. They desire to be wealthy and they are told Christianity will help them achieve that end. So they put up a Christian face and speak Christian jargons when indeed they are not Christians.

Other Motivations

Others put up a Christian conduct because they want to win the heart of a Christian lady or gentleman they desire to date or marry. Others do it for favours especially in the corporate world. The boss is a Christian so the surbodinate who is seeking favours or promotion begins to speak the language of the boss filling up his or her words with Christian jargon.

Right Motivations For Christian Conduct

If the aforementioned are wrong motivations for Christian conduct, it then means there must be motivations which can be deemed “Right Motivations For Christian Conduct”. John’s epistle, just as any other of the New Testament epistles contains imperatives for Christian conduct. The epistles were written to address issues among Christians or Christian churches to regulate their conduct. To this we turn to the opening text.

The Love Of God

See what kind of love the Father has given to us (v.1a).

The Apostle before he goes on to write anything about Christian conduct, he first wonders and expresses apostolic astonishment about the love of God. The greatest motivation for Christian conduct is God’s love. We love God because He first loved us. (Rom 5:8, Eph 2:4). Naturally, we are at enemity with God and without God first taking the initiative to love us, we will be lost. God is love. He is the fountain from which all other loves flows (1John 4:7-10). “See…”…behold… look…ponder… think over what manner of love the Father has loved us.

The Greek uses three kinds of words to describe love in the New Testament: Storge, Phileo and agape. The kind of love God has loved us with is expressed as agape love: “Agape is selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love, the highest of the four types of love in the Bible. This Greek word, agápē, and variations of it are frequently found throughout the New Testament. Agape perfectly describes the kind of love Jesus Christ has for his Father and for his followers. Agape is the term that defines God’s immeasurable, incomparable love for humankind. ²

The apostle indeed wonders about this type of love when he wrote “See what kind of love the Father has given us”. Because it is love we don’t deserve. It is love that pardons of sin and reconciles (1Pet2:10). It is love which is deep (Eph 3:18). It is sacrificial love; love that gives itself to others (Jn.3:16, 1Cor 13:1). If God’s love doesn’t motivate you towards Christian conduct, nothing else will.

Adoption into God’s Family

…that we should be called children of God; and so we are (v.1b).

God loves us and so what? I asked this question to point out that the end of God’s love is our adoption as children into God’s family. J.I. Packer says “Adoption is the highest privilege that the gospel offers: higher even than justification“. Why is this so? Because as I have said earlier, all of God’s dealings with us has the primary purpose of bringing us into family union with the Godhead: “…to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

Once upon a time, the believer was an enemy of God, but in Christ Jesus, now he is reconciled and brought into God’s family. That’s indeed a high privilege isn’t it?
If God is our Father and we His children, then our adoption must be a high impetus to live lives pleasing to Him:

The Second Coming Of Christ

…we know that when he appears (v.2b).

One thing the believer is certain about or must be certain about is the return of our Lord Jesus Christ because the Bible teaches so. “This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11). Jesus Himself taught this when He told the disciples in John 14 that “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also”(vv.1-3).

If we anticipate His second coming, we don’t want to live lives not pleasing to Him. This anticipation must influence how we live our lives now: “…everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure“( 1John 3:3).

The Hope Of Glorification

…when he appears we shall be like him (v. 2b).

Closely related to the previous point is the fact that we don’t only anticipate Christ’s second coming; we also anticipate the glorification of our body when this body of sin will give way to a sinless perfect body. The end of the golden chain of salvation is our glorification: “And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Romans 8:30).When Christ appear, we shall put on our new ressurrected body–just like the one He resurrected with. A body not subject to sin, death and decay. Paul says “we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23). We are saved but we live in a fallen body that presents us with every opportunity to live contrary to our new nature.

Maranatha! Come quickly and redeem us from this corrupt body.

1: http://www.ghanaembassy.org/index.php?page=population

2: http://christianity.about.com/od/glossary/a/Agape.htm

 

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