I’ve been there. You’ve probably been there too. I’ve not only had it happen to me, but I’ve done it. I’ve tried to motivate folks to do good and ended up leaving them feeling more guilty than feeling moved by the gospel. The dangers of that are plenty.
Here’s a small list to know if you are being motivated by guilt or by the gospel. I’d love to hear your thoughts and additions to the list.
Guilt may motivate you but often leaves you:
- Feeling like if I don’t do this God will not love me as much
- Feeling as though my eternal salvation depends on my good works
- Feeling tired and worn
- Feeling like I ought too
- Feeling anxious
- Feeling fearful
- Feeling like God needs me
Guilt happens when we speak more about what we should do than what Christ has already done and promises to do for us and through us.
The Gospel motivates us by:
- giving us the freedom to do this because God’s acceptance of me is not based on my performance
- joy in the reality that my salvation is dependent upon Christ’s works and not mine
- leaving us energized and strengthened
- the awareness that I am privileged too
- trust that God will take care of the impossible, the details, and the outcomes
- the truth that God doesn’t need me but loves to use me
- joy in reflecting the heart of God in our world
The Gospel is communicated when we speak about what Christ has done on our behalf through His death and resurrection and what that means for us today and what that leads us to do. May this be what motivates us to great acts of love and compassion and justice for the good of our fellow man and God’s glory!