Monday, November 7, 2022


By Clifton Angel
    My son is now six years old. Consider this excerpt from when he was two:
My 2-year-old son knows the word ‘obey’ and somewhat understands it. However, what motivates him to practice it can vary. For example, one of his favorite things right now is a large floor puzzle that's in the shape of a barn, and it has farm animals standing in front of the barn. He's really impressed us with his ability to put the majority of it together by himself. He takes it apart and puts it together over and over; however, he likes to place it right in the path where we walk through the house. So, one night recently, before bath time, I told him we needed to clean up the puzzle. He proceeded to put the puzzle together, despite my saying it again a little firmer. Shortly after, my wife chimed in and said, ‘If you want dessert, you need to clean up your puzzle.’ He immediately began putting the pieces in the box. Sometimes, punishment/discipline motivates him to obey. Sometimes, rewards motivate him to obey. And, it is my hope that one day he will obey because of his love for us as his parents.
    What motivates us to obey God?
    Some are motivated to obey God in view of punishment. It is reasonable, logical, and Scriptural to obey God for fear of punishment. For, "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23).
    Some are motivated to obey God in view of reward. It is reasonable, logical, and Scriptural to obey God for desire of reward. The same passage states, "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23).
    But, how many are motivated to obey God out of true love of Him? Jesus said to His apostles, "If you love me, ye will keep my commandments" (John 14:15). We often use this passage to note that showing our love to Christ requires keeping His commandments—and that is true. But, perhaps Jesus' statement was more about love than obedience. For, He knows obedience will be automatic, once we have grown to true love for Him. Yes, we have to continue to obey Him and build our relationship with Him in order to grow in our love for Him.
    Many obey for fear of punishment, and that is okay. Many obey for hope of reward, and that is okay. How many obey because of love? When someone is speaking, we are much more attentive to the words being spoken, when we love and respect the one who is speaking. This certainly applies to our love for Christ.
"We love (him) because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19).
    God loves you; do you love Him? Have you obeyed Him? Are you obeying Him?

- Clifton Angel preaches for the Coldwater Church of Christ in Coldwater, MS. He may be contacted through that congregation's website:

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