I remember the aggravation I caused my parents at my reluctance to obey: “For the umpteenth time, would you clean your room?!?” I didn’t want to make my bed, put away my laundry, or pick up the scattered papers that covered desk and dresser.
Then I lost my wallet full of cash. I looked everywhere. In drawers, pants pockets, and on the shelf. Nothing. Finally, I decided I would have to systematically work through my room and tidy it bit by bit – this would help me find my missing wallet.
Motivation rarely comes from external forces. People try to cajole, manipulate, shame, or guilt others into acting. But once the heart is moved, the internal desire can bring about change unlike any external factor.
When Peter writes to believers about living for God and not for self, he reminds them of these words:
“Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God” (1 Pe. 4:1-2).
What will cause you to live for God? Will rules, regulations, expectations of others, or condemnation motivate you to follow Christ’s ways and endure public shame? No, external forces never bring lasting change. What alters our desires and motivations is simple – we are born again to a living hope (1:3) and are given a new love (1:8a) and joy (1:8b). We see that Christ suffered for us to bring us to God (3:18). His love for us, the future that is securely kept for us, and the newness of life we have received from him creates a new motivation in us. His commands are not burdensome because we want to love him and obey him (Jn 14:15; 1 Jn 5:2-3). When his Spirit abides in us, we are armed with all of heaven’s help to live the Christian life. Our desires change. Our motivations change. And for a good reason – the motivation has moved from an external pressure to an inner desire.
The motivation we need to live for the will of God and not for human passions of sinful desires comes from the Spirit who writes his law upon our hearts (2 Cor. 3:1-6; Heb. 10:16:16-17; Jer. 31:33). No longer is the law of God outside of us written on tablets of stone, but upon our hearts. And when his law is written on our hearts, the motivation to think like Christ, follow Christ, and suffer with Christ comes from his desire in us.
While this motivation is placed within our hearts, Peter reminds us that we must arm ourselves with the same way of Christ-like thinking. We must stoke the flames of desire and motivation by reminding ourselves of the beauty of following Christ, who promises us a secure future where we might be with God and enjoy endless delights with him (1 Pe. 3:18)
So arm yourself! Read His Word! Pray for passion! And trust that He has given you everything you need for life and godliness (2 Pe. 1:3)!
See you Sunday!
Missional Action Prayer: Lord, thank you for giving me your Spirit who abides with me and writes your word upon my heart. Help me to hide your word in my heart that I might not sin against you and live in a way that displays my confidence is in Christ alone. Amen.