Sitting with the Shepherd
And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:25-27 NKJV)
Growing in godliness can be attempted in one of two ways. Once we come to faith in Christ we can become driven or we can be properly motivated. All that we accomplish in this life is done for a reason. To some the need to be loved, valued and accepted drives them relentlessly to perform works of the flesh in order to satisfy their innate emotional needs. These can be good works by human standards, but useless in the eyes of God unless they allow Him to accomplish them through them. "each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire." (1 Corinthians 3:13-15 NKJV) Our innate need for love value and acceptance can only be found in a relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ. When we accept His love we can become properly motivated to live our spiritual life deliberately and with purpose for His glory alone.
It is healthy to know where we are going and to live in such a way to accelerate our progress in getting there. To run a race without having a clear goal is to run with uncertainty and even futility. Besides the fact that it is an unsatisfying or unfulfilling way to live it is utterly futile in the grand scheme of things. A life lived with purpose and meaning will always be more gratifying and carry with it the promise of eternal rewards. While there are many Christians who are eternally secure in going to heaven they fail to see the importance of how they live today. I've heard it said that God cares as much about the journey as He does about the destination. Were this not the case he could take us home immediately upon our initial profession of faith. Instead He works in us to cultivate our character as we work out our salvation with fear and trembling, employing us as ministers of reconciliation who are being conformed day by day into the image of Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13 NKJV)
Questions for Personal Reflection or Discussion
1. What are the two types of motivation mentioned here?
2. How can we be sure we are working with God for His glory and not for our own gratification?
3. Who can God use you to minister to today and help facilitate reconciliation?
My Lord and my Savior Jesus Christ You have redeemed my life from the darkness and transferred me into the kingdom of light. Thank You that You have a plan for my life. Thank You that my life has meaning and purpose today. Empower me by Your grace to live a disciplined life that I may be conformed into Your image and glorify the Father in heaven. Amen