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Our Moral Motivation

Our Moral Motivation

This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. (1 John 5:2)

Some things are morally wrong to do, but at the same time, they aren’t completely wrong because they are acceptable in today’s culture. Re-read that statement and think about it for a second. Done? Okay, now try this one on for size. As a Christian, I follow the teachings of the Bible because I believe the Bible is true.

Now step back for a moment, and consider what is true about these two statements. They both illustrate the selfish, human desire to carry out what feels best to the individual. Yep. They are the same, even though the second statement mentions the Bible two times, sounds really spiritual and is rooted in general Christian tradition.

These two declarations address what motivates our morality. In other words, we do what we do as a result of what we believe about right and wrong. In the first case, motivation is based on what people around us think. In the second case, motivation is based on what some people from thousands of years ago thought. Now, by way of reassurance, I’m not saying that the Bible isn’t reliable. What I am saying is that there is a crucial distinction between following the teachings of the Bible because they are in the Bible and following the teachings of the Bible because we love our God.

When you get right down to it, the majority of Christians act like Christians because it feels good and is acceptable in their culture. Wait a second. That sounds a lot like the first sentence on this page. What is more, we are by and large teaching our children to be cultural Christians. Young disciples in our churches know what the Bible has to say about right and wrong, and they can spot a transgressor a mile away. The church is really good at producing Christians that have the biblical idea of right and wrong so engrained in their minds that they can’t help but live a reactionary life. What I mean by that is, we begin to equate Christ-like discipleship with right living and right judgment. This is a gross misrepresentation of what it means to follow Jesus.

Following Jesus is more than doing what is right and throwing a fit when others fall short. Following Jesus is a love affair. It is a daring relationship that must change what we think about the world … and what we think about morality. We cannot live the abundant, courageous Christian life that Jesus offers if we skulk behind the façade of cultural morality (albeit Christian). When asked why we should avoid sin, a true disciple will not say, “Because the Bible says so.” A true disciple will say, “I don’t sin because it will separate me from my master and will hurt my most highly respected friend, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Dig Deeper:

Deuteronomy 11:11-22

Joshua 22:5

John 14:15-21


Father, I want to keep Your commandments. I love You and want to bring You the same joy You give to me. 

RELEVANT’s “Deeper Walk” daily devotionals are presented by the LUMO Project, a visual translation of the four Gospels developed to engage people with scripture in a new way. You can watch the videos—which redefine the standard of visual biblical media—on YouTube, and find out more about LUMO’s mission at their website.

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