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In nearly everything we do, there is some kind of motivation. There is some "motive" behind our actions, something that "moves" us to do what we do. And the truth is, some motivations are more powerful than others. For most people, the more important an activity is, the more powerfully they would like to be motivated. Now think for a moment: if obedience to Christ is the most important activity in life, what would be the most powerful motivation to engage in that activity?
After many years of pondering this question, I believe the scriptural answer is clear: gratitude for grace is our most powerful motivation. When a person is keenly aware just how serious his sins are -- and realizes that God is willing to forgive those sins anyway, based on Christ's death on the cross -- there is nothing that person wouldn't do to show his gratitude for God's forgiveness.
As Christians, when our motivation to obey the Lord begins to die down, what is the problem? In theory, we all realize we are indebted to God's grace for the forgiveness of our sins, but at the practical level, our gratitude for God's grace may not be what it ought to be. For one thing, we may see ourselves as having been good enough during most of our lives that it was no big deal for God to forgive us when we slipped up. Or (and here is the real problem, it seems to me), we simply don't see the seriousness of our sins, whether they be many or few.
In the story in Lk. 7:36-50, the difference between Simon the Pharisee and the sinful woman who anointed the Lord's feet was not that she had committed "big" sins but Simon had only committed "little" ones. The difference was that she saw the seriousness of her sins, but Simon did not see the seriousness of his. Consequently, she loved the Lord more than Simon and would be more powerfully devoted to Him. Jesus summed it up when He said, "He who is forgiven little, loves little."
So let's work on godly sorrow for our sins, grieving their seriousness. And then, having received the Lord's forgiveness, we'll be powerfully motivated to love Him, serve Him, and remain faithful to Him -- all out of joyful gratitude. No one will have to twist our arm to get us to do what is right. We'll be looking for every possible way to thank our Father for having forgiven us.
Monday: 2 Corinthians 6:1
Key Idea: It is possible to receive the grace of God in vain.
Questions for Family Growth: In your own words, how would you define God's "grace"? Is there any choice on our part in whether we receive God's grace or not? What would it mean to receive the grace of God "in vain"?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 29:10.
Tuesday: Hebrews 6:6; 10:29
Key Idea: There could hardly be a worse sin than showing contempt for Christ's death for us.
Questions for Family Growth: How is it possible to crucify again the Son of God and hold Him up to contempt? Can one who is a Christian do that? In 10:29, what should we do when we realize we have "trampled underfoot the Son of God" and "outraged the Spirit of grace"?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 29:11.
Wednesday: 1 Peter 4:10
Key Idea: We should see ourselves as "stewards" of God's grace.
Questions for Family Growth: What is a "steward," and how should we be "good stewards of God's varied grace"? In 2 Chron. 32:24,25, what does it mean when it says Hezekiah "did not respond appropriately to the kindness shown him [by God]" (NLT)?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 29:12.
Thursday: Luke 7:36-50
Key Idea: Our love for God is greatest when we're most honest about our own sins.
Questions for Family Growth: In vv.37,38, what did the woman in this story do? What did the Lord say about her in v.47. Why is it that we love the Lord more when we realize the horribleness of our own sins against Him? What happens when we don't see the seriousness of our own sins?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 29:13.
Friday: 1 Corinthians 15:10
Key Idea: Paul's sacrificial service to God was motivated by his deep gratitude for God's grace.
Questions for Family Growth: After Paul's conversion to Christ, what kind of life resulted from his recognition of the magnitude of God's forgiveness of him? Why did he work as hard as he did in the Lord's work? What did Paul say about himself in 1 Tim. 1:15,16?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 29:14.