When we look at our journey with God, taking the steps of a disciple, it is essential to keep in mind God’s motivation as well as ours. God’s motivation is love. John writes: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). God offers us salvation and abundant living because He is good and He loves us.
God does not love us because we have done something right, but because He is righteous. God loves us just because He loves us. Paul describes this truth in Romans: “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). The love of God is profound. Christ did not die for the righteous (morally perfect and good) but for sinners (ungodly or unrighteous people) who are living in rebellion against God. Christ died for people like you and me. He died for you and me and everyone else. God’s love is shown in the death of Christ, who died that we might live. While God’s righteousness and justice led to His plan of salvation through the death of Christ (see: Rom 3:25-26), it was His love that motivated this plan.
It is biblically clear that God’s motivation for saving us and inviting us to experience abundant living is love; therefore it ought to also be clear that our motivation for receiving Christ as Lord and Savior and walking with Him as His disciple is love. That is why John records these words of Christ: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). Love is a distinguishing mark of a follower of Christ. A believer is to love God with everything and others as themselves. The very love God has for us, and by His Spirit has poured into our very lives, is to flow through us to the world around us. It is to saturate every part of us, being the source of our motivation. We come to Christ and continue in Him out of love.
Love being our motivation makes sense when we explore God’s Word but can be difficult as we practically live our ordinary every day lives. Since God is perfect and we are not, it does not take long to discover that other motivations can seep into our daily walk with Him. Things such as acceptance, fear, and even what we can get from God can become our motivation if we take our eyes off Christ and the truth of His Word. We may begin to operate out of a feeling of condemnation, which is fear of punishment. This is not a healthy motivation, and such fear is unwarranted for a believer (see: Rom 8:1). No, as God is motivated by love, we too ought to be motivated by love. For this reason, John’s words are crucial to understand: “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Christian love is a gift from God, demonstrated by Christ on the cross (see: Rom 5:8). God’s love always takes the initiative, and the love found in Christ’s followers is a response to His love.
In order for a believer to share in God’s motivation of love, we must first receive His love and continue to believe He does indeed love us as truly today as He did yesterday and will into the unforeseeable future. God’s love is constant and complete. As we rest in the reality of God’s love for us we are empowered by His Spirit to live motivated by love. Such love glorifies God, blesses us, and benefits others.
Let’s encourage one another to embrace and reflect God’s love as we journey with Christ and take the steps to believe, belong, become, and bless. It is such a blessing to know God and make Him known. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!