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There are different reasons for which a person might seek to do God's will. It is a healthy thing to fear the punishment of our sins, and that is one reason to do what is right. Better than that, though, is the desire to enjoy the blessings of righteousness. Wanting to go to heaven is a higher reason for doing right than merely wanting to avoid hell. An even higher reason for living according to God's will, however, is the love of God. When this is our motivation, we do what God wills simply because we love Him, and we find delight in pleasing Him. Paul wrote, "So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him" (2 Cor. 5:9).
If it is important to love God, then we should think about how we can love Him more than we do right now. What is it that can cause us to grow in our love for God? Perhaps there are many things that could move us in this direction, but the greatest of all is the simple fact that God loves us. We love God because He has loved us first. Especially in the giving of His Son for our sins God has shown a love that draws us toward Him. This week, let's think about the fact that God's love for us demonstrated at the cross moves us to love Him.
When we lack sufficient motivation to do what is right, it is often helpful to look at the quality of our motives. If we can do what we do for higher reasons, we will be more powerfully encouraged to do it. And surely, the highest possible motive would be the pure, sincere love of our Heavenly Father. If this is what motivates us, we will find great delight in doing God's will.
The love of God in Christ is a force that constrains or compels us to return our own love to Him. Having given us free wills, God will not force us to love Him. We are not robots, but persons with the power of choice. Consequently, God deals with us so as to call forth a love we freely choose to give Him. In showing His love for us, God is inviting us to enter into a relationship with Him based on love freely given. As Paul put it, "For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised" (2 Cor. 5:14,15). Knowing what we know about the cross, how can we but love, trust, and obey God?
Monday: John 3:14-17
Key Idea: It was love that moved God to give His son for us.
Questions for Family Growth: What is the comparison between Moses "lifting up" the serpent in the wilderness and Christ being "lifted up" for us? Why did God do what He did at the cross? Did God send His Son to condemn the world?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 10:18.
Tuesday: Romans 5:6-11
Key Idea: God demonstrated His love in giving His Son for us while we were still sinners.
Questions for Family Growth: What does it mean that God "demonstrates" (NKJV) His love for us? Why did we not deserve what God did for us? What does it mean that Christ died for us "while we were still weak" (ESV)?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 10:19-21.
Wednesday: 2 Corinthians 5:14,15
Key Idea: If Christ died for us, we should live for Him.
Questions for Family Growth: Why should Christ's death for us make us thankful? Why should it make us humble? What kind of life should our thankfulness and humility cause us to lead? What does 1 Jn. 3:18 say about our love?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 10:22.
Thursday: 1 John 4:17-19
Key Idea: We ought to love God because He first loved us.
Questions for Family Growth: How is it that we may have "confidence for the day of judgment"? What does it mean that "there is no fear in love"? How should we show our love for God? Consider 1 Jn. 4:10,11.
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 10:23-25.
Friday: Romans 8:31-39
Key Idea: Nothing in the world can separate us against our will from God's love.
Questions for Family Growth: What is the meaning of the question, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" According to this passage, how do we know that God is "for us"? What confidence should the love of God impart to us?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 10:26.