God’s Love is the Prime Motivator. Love invites, love encourages, and love energizes. Love is what we all crave deep down inside whether things are good or things are not. Love is what everyone wants and needs but love is hard to find in this present evil world. When love draws you, you respond instantly. It’s built into you. You cannot refuse it. Love is God’s great calling card.
The second and lesser motivator is fear. This is what laws are all about. By exacting a penalty for a misdeed, people are more inclined to obey the law in question. The stiffer the penalty, the more obedient people are. Therefore the more heinous the crime, the stiffer the penalty prescribed by the law. Lesser offenses carry a lesser penalty in a society the embraces and advocates justice.
Fear of penalty or harm is indeed a good motivator, but love is better. Love inspires people to act in the right way while fear scares them into it. Which form of motivation do you think leads people to repentance?
II Corinthians 5:11-14 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.
For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart.
For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause.
For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:
And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
We see both types of motivation in these verses from II Corinthians 5. First, the “terror” of the Lord motivated Paul and his companions to preach Christ to unbelievers. Paul understood that God is Just and justice is what governs God’s judgments and sentences. Not wanting anyone to go through sentences that can be avoided, Paul preached the gospel.
On the other hand, he states, “For the love of Christ constrains us…” While the terror of the Lord motivated Paul and others to preach the gospel, it was the love of Christ that constrained them to live according to the gospel and to teach others to do the same.
God Uses Both Types of Motivation but Love is Strongest
We can see throughout the Scriptures that God uses both love and fear motivation, but I believe it states that what leads people to repentance is not their fear of God but their love for Him because of His goodness.
Romans 2:4 Or despise you the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
I John 4:7-10 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
To love God is to keep His commandments.
John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
His commandments are to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and to love your neighbor (as much) as you love yourself. When these are in place in your life, there is nothing you will do to harm or take advantage of anyone else.
The Fear of God Is Meant to Enforce Obedience
As you read God’s Word you will find many references to God’s judgments. Throughout Israel’s history, God warns them that if they are not obedient, they will suffer “the curse of the law.” The motivation to do what God wants is obvious here. God’s promise was that if they did obey Him by obeying His commandments, they would be blessed. The choice was given to them to obey or not with corresponding blessings and curses depending upon their decision. But love is the very reason God gave them the law in the first place — not to make them righteous but to convict them all of sin so they could see the need for their Savior, Jesus Christ who was prophesied to come. The love of God showed them they couldn’t attain to His standards no matter how hard they tried so God would provide a sacrifice for them by giving His only begotten Son.
The Love of God Leads to Repentence
We quoted Romans 2:4 above, “knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” That God is good is undeniable. He gave us all we need, in this world to not only survive but to live abundantly. God wants His people to be in health and prosper
John 10:10 The thief comes not, but to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
II John 1:2 Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.
The key to health and prosperity then is in “your soul” prospering. Your soul is your inner life. As you feed your soul, so to speak, with God’s Word, it prospers. As your soul prospers, so does your health and prosperity in this life.
Vine’s Dictionary of Greek words defines the soul as “the seat of Intellect”: the seat of the sentient element in man, that by which he perceives, reflects, feels, and desires. Basically, the soul is the place that houses our will, our emotions, and our intellect (the thinking, reasoning part of us: The Mind).
Here is how your soul prospers:
James 1:21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
The word “save” in the above verse is the same Greek word, “”, as used to translate “prosper” in III John 1:2. Receive God’s Word with meekness and your soul will prosper. It’s that simple.
Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Prove God’s will in your own life. Respond to God’s love by meekly receiving His Word of truth. Transform your mind by renewing it to God’s Word. Your soul will prosper and you will be in better health and you’ll be more prosperous in everything you do. Praise God for his loving kindness to us His children!