Tuesday, April 25, 2017
a greater motivation
Today we hear from Chaeremon in A Year with the Church Fathers. And he makes an important distinction in our motivation for choosing good versus evil.
But first, I have to point out that Chaeremon really sounds like the name of a Pokemon. Amirite?
Seriously, though. He says that it's better to choose good because we learn to love the good, rather than to do good because we're afraid of punishment. And he's right.
When some people hear about the possibility that people of other faiths might be saved, they get angry. I've heard them say "Well, then why have I wasted my whole life following these rules if we don't have to follow them to be saved??"
There are several layers wrong with that thinking. First, we don't earn our salvation by following rules. Second, following "those rules" brings us to a better, happier, healthier life that provides true joy and fulfillment. The "rules" are not designed to steal our joy, but to bring us deeper joy. Third, as our Pokemon friend points out, if we learn to do good because we love those to whom we're doing the good, and we love the good itself that we're doing, then we will be happy to go on doing it for the rest of our lives.
But if we're only doing good because we're afraid of being punished (with hell, or with a bad life) if we don't... then as soon as that fear goes away (other people can be saved??) we want to abandon our good deeds and plunge into sin.
If you find yourself doing good because you're afraid of punishment... ask God to give you love for doing good things instead. He will teach you how to fall in love with the good that He calls us to... because He indwells that good.
God, thank You for teaching us the right motivation.