We pleaded with you, encouraged you, and urged you to live your lives in a way that God would consider worthy. For he called you to share in his Kingdom and glory. ~ 1 Thessalonians 2:12 (NLT)
As followers of Jesus, we are meant to live lives that reflect Christlikeness, the fruit of the Spirit, and godliness. But what motivates us to do this?
Sometimes you hear people talk about being scared of hell. Fear of God’s punishment of sin motivates them away from a life defined by sin. Should we doubt the realities of hell, Jesus himself reminded us that hell is real, hell is eternal, and hell is painful (Matthew 25:30, 46). We should be disturbed by the realities of hell and want to flee from it, but ultimately that is not to be the motivation of the Christian life.
The primary drive to live a life “that God would consider worthy” should not be what we are escaping from but rather what we are running towards. Yes, we should be unspeakably thankful that Jesus bore the full brunt of our punishment on the cross so we might wear the fullness of his righteousness before God; yet each day we should remind ourselves of this fact: If I belong to Jesus then I am a child of God’s Kingdom and a partaker of God’s glory.
That was Paul’s desire for the church at Thessalonica.
John said something similar in 1 John 4:17-18. The more we grow to understand our lives in God through Christ, the more we grow in love and experience God’s love, and the less fear we have of the day of judgment. And why? “Because perfect love expels all fear.”
We have been loved with the perfect love of the perfect God in and through Jesus. In his love, God doesn’t want us to fear punishment but rather be compelled by his love. By his love, he rescues us from the helplessness and darkness of our sin. By his love, he rescues us not to be a servant in his house but to be his child and an heir to his Kingdom.
So let not fear motivate you or guilt. Rather let the love of God and your identity through Jesus as a member of the Kingdom and partaker of God’s glory drive you to pursue godliness at all times in all that you do.
This post is part of our continuing journey through the Bible as a church.