Motivation - Part 3
Link Truth To Beauty
Too often the devil convinces us to link truth, doctrine, honesty, purity, and such things to "boredom", "confinement", and "unhappiness". Instead of viewing honesty as a handicap, realize that honesty is pure, clean, beautiful, and respectful. David had learned this lesson,"The commandment of the Lord is pure" (Psalm 19:8). "Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Thy law" (Psalm 119:18). "O how I love Thy law! It is my meditation all the day" (119:97). "Thy testimonies are wonderful; therefore my soul observes them" (119:129). Look once again at the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), or the definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, and see the beauty there is to be found in being honest, pure, noble, diligent, and godly. Following the Scriptures won’t turn you into something that is ugly, but rather, God’s commandments will transform you into a person of beauty.
I have been reading a book on fidelity (faithful devotion to duty or to one’s obligations or vows; loyalty; faithfulness). The writer said that we must come to rethink the relationship between masculinity and being seduced. John Milton uses a striking phrase in Paradise Lost, referring to those men who were seduced by the "daughters of men". When shown the future seduction of these men, these descendants of his, Adam attempts to blame the women involved—"Man’s woe holds on the same, from Woman to begin". The angel replies to the contrary: "From Man’s effeminate slackness it begins". Effeminate slackness: Many men like to flatter themselves, thinking that the ease with which they might be seduced is somehow a masculine trait. In reality it is quite the reverse. At the heart of masculinity is the possession of authority and taking of initiative; by creation the design of a man is intended by God to be a head, a head willing to sacrifice himself. But part of our word seduction comes from the Latin word duco, which means "I lead". When a man is seduced he is being led(Fidelity: What it Means To Be a One Woman Man, by Douglas Wilson, p. 22). Compare this with the statement in Proverbs 31:3 "Do not give your strength to women". We need to deprogram ourselves, and once again see the beauty in moral purity, patience, faithfulness, honesty, self-control, and other such qualities.
No One Is Coming To The Rescue
That is, often we put off needed change because we think that someone will come along and rescue us from our bad habits. People in the world often place their hopes on winning the lottery to solve their problems, and Christians can have the same pipe dreams. I don’t need to get control of my spending habits, because one day the money will just be there. I don’t have to get control of this or that bad habit, because somehow it will go away. We see too many people, co-workers, neighbors, and relatives to know better than to naively think that people just naturally grow out of sinful ways of acting or thinking. Growth isn’t going to happen until we put forth the effort (2 Peter 1:5; Philippians 2:12).
Debate With Your Dark Side
"We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5). "But I buffet my body and make it my slave" (1 Corinthians 9:27). "But do not let immorality or any impurity or greed even be named among you, as is proper among saints" (Ephesians 5:3). "Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth" (Colossians 3:2). "Now flee from youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness" (2 Timothy 2:22). Too often we allow negative and sinful thoughts in our own minds to go unchallenged. We need to take control of our thoughts and challenge any idea that raises itself against God’s truth. See yourself as a trial lawyer who is always building a case for serving God and appreciating His blessings. Many of us have seen faithful people lapse into error, and such happens when people no longer challenge wrong ideas and allow such ideas to take root in their lives.
Someone has noted that "every problem carries a gift inside it". View problems as exercise for the soul. We need to see ourselves as mental and spiritual athletes, and problems are merely a tough and hard fought game. Remember, without problems there aren’t any solutions. Problems give us the chance to apply our Christianity and to test our faith. "In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:6-7).
Go On A News Fast
It is amazing the change in attitude that can happen when we get away from the world’s perspective and what the world views as problems. One writer noted, "Why should we let some R-rated discjockey determine what we think?" This doesn’t mean withdraw from the world. But it does mean remember the following: 1. You already know the solutions to the world’s problems. How many problems would be solved by the simple application of the following verse, (Matthew 7:12)? 2. The world will never solve its problems. We can save individuals, but we can’t save the entire planet. First century Christians saved many people, but they could not save the institutions of society, the Roman Empire eventually fell and so did many other ancient institutions. 3. Be a good citizen, but when people say, "We are all in this together", for the Christian that isn’t true. We will try to save as many people as we can, but our citizenship is in heaven(Philippians 3:21). 4. Don’t be consumed by problems. Crime, pollution, crowded cities, traffic problems, and so on, existed in the ancient world. Yet, the apostles were only concerned with one consuming goal, that is, spreading the gospel (Matthew 28:19-20). Remember, your mind is yours to fill with what you want (Philippians 4:8).
Be The Change
We will probably get frustrated if we stand around waiting for others to change first. The most effective way to effect change, is to lead the way. "Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1). "That you may prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and preserve generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world" (Philippians 2:15). 1 Thessalonians 1:7-10 "So that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything. For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come". 1 Timothy 4:12 "Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe". It is easy to complain, but nothing good happens when we complain, in fact, such complaining drains us of the motivation we need. If more people need to be reached with the gospel, then "be the change", start talking to people. If more hospitality needs to be expressed, then "be the change", start having people into your home.
One of the most effective ways to learn is to ask questions. If you find that you have a hard time talking to people, or have a difficult time keeping the conversation going, ask questions. If someone does this or that for a living, then ask all the questions you can think of about that topic. When you are with an older couple, ask questions about how they overcame the trials of life. Don’t assume that knowledge on certain topics, like how a marriage works, or how you raise children will just come naturally. Asking questions, also demands humility, don’t assume that you have all the information you need on this or that topic (James 1:21; Acts 17:11). It is amazing how prepared you are for certain situations, if you have made a regular practice of asking questions. Realize, that everyone you meet has knowledge that they are willing to give away for free! All you have to do is ask.
Don’t Overlook Small "Wins"
Often we don’t realize what we have been accomplishing. The couple that is attending more regularly, the person who commented in class, who never did before, are all very important achievements. If you resisted temptation today, then that was a victory. Jesus would remind us, "Don’t forget or dismiss the little things" (Matthew 10:42; Matthew 25:35).
Too often we choose passive relaxation. In fact, sometimes people say, "I’m going home to vegetate on the couch". If we are looking for relaxation that will motivate us and recharge our batteries, then deadening the mind isn’t going to work. Instead, we need to do something, an activity that we can relax at the same time stimulate the mind.
Get Up On The Right Side Of The Bed
Or, "get up on the right side of the head". Instead of dreading a new day, look at all the opportunities that this day will present. You have another day to enjoy your mate and children, another day to accomplish something for God, another day to share the gospel with friends and strangers (Philippians 1:21,23). Have the attitude that Paul had, "The church needs me". Another day means another day of profitable labor.
Mark Dunagan/Beaverton Church of Christ/503-644-9017