In the religious circles I grew up in, guilt seemed to be a prime motivator to keep me in line, or to prompt me toward obedience and good living. Many people I’ve talked with over the years seem to identify with this performance-oriented spiritual perspective. In fact, I was just with a friend who confessed that he feels like he doesn’t measure up and that God views him as under-achieving or handicapped in some way.
In his letter to followers of Jesus in Rome, Paul speaks to our tendency to judge one another, even though we don’t measure up ourselves. Ever see that played out these days?! He goes on to indicate that when we judge others, ignoring our own sin, we miss the mark ourselves, putting ourselves in the same need for God’s mercy. He then makes a wonderful statement regarding a major force that draws and engages us in our relationship with God: “Do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?” (Romans 2:1-4)? It’s true in my life. While fear of God’s judgment can certainly motivate, the most powerful motivator for my soul is the ever-present knowledge that He loves me, He provides forgiveness, and most incredibly, that He came to earth to die for me. Amazing.
Do you ever find yourself driven more by guilt than joy in your pursuit of God and His ways? Do you find guilt motivation true or helpful in any ways? To what extent have you found motivation toward repentance in the kindness of God?
Check out Jeremiah 31:3: “The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.”