“Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.
I have sworn an oath and confirmed it,
to keep your righteous rules.”
Why? If you see the word of God in this light, and you are truly committed to obeying the Lord’s commands (New Covenant), what is your motivation? Is it to get heavenly rewards? Or is it to avoid punishment? Certainly those are factors. We will be rewarded in heaven for our obedience, and if we don’t obey the Lord, we won’t get those rewards. But is that to be our motivation?
Someone I know has raised a concern about this, that if we are doing what we do just so we can get rewards, she says that is selfish. For, we are doing what we do for God and for others for what we can get out of it, or for some kind of reward which we will receive in return. And I agree with her that it appears to be selfish if that is our sole motivation.
Now, call me weird or whatever, but I always had a tough time grasping this whole concept of rewards in heaven for what I do on this earth. If a family member was sick, I took care of him or her, even if I was sick myself. If my family needed to eat, I fed them. I made sure they were clothed and that they were warm enough and that they had all their basic needs covered.
I wasn’t thinking about what I was going to get out of it or what rewards might be awaiting me in heaven because I did this or that. If people were in need, and we could help them, and if we felt led to do so, we helped them, but for me it wasn’t so I could get a reward or recognition. I helped because they needed help. I felt compassion for them and I helped.
For me, I obey the Lord because I love him and I want to obey him. Do I have to obey him? Yes! Is there punishment if I don’t obey him? Yes! But that is not my motivation for obeying. I want to do what pleases him. I want to be used of him in the lives of others for their good and for his glory, but not for my benefit, but because I care about others and I love God.
“I am severely afflicted;
give me life, O Lord, according to your word!
Accept my freewill offerings of praise, O Lord,
and teach me your rules.”
If we obey the Lord hoping to get some recognition or rewards on this earth, not only are we doing it for the wrong reasons, but we are most likely going to be severely disappointed. For, if we are truly walking in obedience to the Lord, and we are doing what he says to do, we are going to face a lot of opposition and persecution. We will be hated and rejected by some people.
We have to do what we do because we love God with our whole being and because we love our neighbors as ourselves. We should not get caught up in this whole reward thing to where we think if we just do this or that we will receive this or that in return. Some people are teaching that we should give so we can get more back. That is the wrong motivation.
I love how this says, “freewill offerings.” We give because we love God and we give because we love people. We don’t give so we will get in return. We don’t do for God hoping we will gain his approval. That is trying to earn our own salvation. It can’t be done. We give freely out of our own free will because God’s love is within us and we are loving others with his love.
Although I don’t work for rewards, sometimes the Lord does bless us with rewards. But the kind I rejoice over is when I see how what we did for others helped them in some way and how it made a difference in their lives, like the man we helped get him false teeth. Our reward was seeing his big bright smile when he put those new teeth in his mouth.
“I hold my life in my hand continually,
but I do not forget your law.
The wicked have laid a snare for me,
but I do not stray from your precepts.”
When we truly walk in obedience to our Lord and we do what pleases him, not for what we can get in return, but because we love him and we love other people, sometimes we will be risking our own lives and reputations, too. Sometimes those we help will hate us in return. Sometimes we will be taken advantage of. And sometimes they may even use it against us.
We can’t be guaranteed that everyone is going to receive our love and our help in the light it was given. We can’t be guaranteed that they are not going to turn on us and be spiteful in return. There are no guarantees except the ones that God gives us. So, when we stick our necks out on the line to help others, we can’t do it expecting to get something in return.
We have to work for the Lord if we get nothing in return but people arguing with us, hating us, mocking us, ignoring us, and rejecting us, etc. And the same goes with helping people who are in need. We may do good to others and they may try to trap us in some way. For there are a lot of con artists out there who take advantage of people with compassionate hearts.
So, we have to do what we do for no other reason than because we love God and we love people and we care about people and their needs, and we can’t do it expecting anything in return for our benefit. And we can’t withhold good from people just because they didn’t appreciate our help or because they were mean to us. Love should conquer all.
“Your testimonies are my heritage forever,
for they are the joy of my heart.
I incline my heart to perform your statutes
forever, to the end.”
As I thought about this whole matter of motivation, i.e. of why we do what we do, I loved it when I got to this part where it says that God’s testimonies (his words) are “the joy of my heart.” It should bring us joy serving our Lord and serving other people because we love them and we want to do good to them, even if we are not well received in return.
It should give us joy serving the Lord even though we may lose sleep, or we may have to sacrifice some things we would like to do. We should have joy in doing what is right and what is good if we receive nothing good in return, just because it is the right thing to do, and just because it is the loving thing to do, and because we have compassion and we care.
The word of God should not be a drudgery to us. We shouldn’t study the Scriptures just because we are supposed to or because it is required of us. We should read the Scriptures and put them into practice in our daily lives because we love God and we love his word and we delight in his laws. And we should have this approach to life in general.
Instead of grumbling and complaining about having to do this or that, we should rejoice that we are able to do this or that, and we should find the joy in the tasks of daily life and in serving the Lord, and we should do what we do because it is a joy to our hearts to serve God and others. We all have room to grow in this area, and we all need to check our hearts’ motivation.
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
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