Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend, authors of various “Boundaries” books write in Boundaries with Children that we need to help our children move toward greater motives for doing the right things and making the right choices. They list motivation stages from those that are less mature to the more mature: (1) Fear of consequences, (2) Immature conscience, (3) Values and ethics, and (4) love.
It occurs to me, as it has to others, that motives for obeying God mature the same way for adults in their relationship to the Father. While fear of eternal punishment, internal coercion motivated by the desire to conform to the values of others, and personal ethics are compelling motivators for obeying God; love is the greatest motive of all. Surely Jesus was expressing that truth when he said “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40).
When you know what God has done for through Jesus, you can’t help but love him. When you’ve exposed yourself to the love of God, you develop a love for all people, because God loves all people. Love is the motive that will keep you on the “straight and narrow” when fear and coercion have lost their power and when ethics appear questionable.
Grow toward love. That’s Life at Work!