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Motivated By Love

Motivation is the fuel that our lives run on. As believers in Jesus Christ, our direction is set: knowing Christ, being found in Him, and boasting in His righteousness (Philippians 3:7-11). Now to determine which fuel holds the power and endurance to take us there.

by Elizabeth Pennington on November 10, 2020

Some may attempt to use fear as fuel. At first this may seem like a very powerful source of energy. Chase a person from behind with a sharp blade of threats and he will RUN. With his adrenaline pumping, his frontal lobe (the part of the brain responsible for logic, reason, and sound decision-making) goes off line and the direction is lost, creating a chaotic path of flight.

When the draw of fame and acceptance is what drives a person, the path to Christ gives way to a focus on self. We may think we are in charge, but the claws of pride grip and pull us toward a path leading away from Christ.

Not all fuel is equal. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 clearly identifies the perfect fuel that helps us reach our goal of the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ: love.

 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

The love of Jesus Christ is both our direction and our motivation. The embodiment of God, Jesus himself is love. “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). We are drawn to him because our broken selves (mind, body, spirit) long for the healing and security found only in the power of His perfect love. We are driven forward by this same power that both draws us to Him and pushes us away from the things that hold us back.

Phil. 3:13-14, “…forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Romans 12:1-2, “…let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross...”

The perfect love of Christ dissolves that power of fear. 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” Fear is a fast burning fuel. It hits with a surge and then drops us somewhere far off course. Fear is not founded in what we are moving toward, but rather what we are avoiding. If we are motivated to avoid punishment, are we not also avoiding the God who issues the rules? How can we ever expect to reach our goal of being found in Christ if our fear drives us to avoid him?

Counseling philosophies motivated by fear produce, at best temporary behavioral changes, and at worst, further damage the wounded soul. At Apollos Center, we are motivated by love and invite clients into a hopeful process of moving toward their goals rather than avoiding undesirable behaviors. When the goal is the abundant life promised to believers in Jesus Christ, relationship with God through Christ Jesus is our direction and motivation.

Pride is a terrible counterfeit for acceptance. Our system (mind, body, spirit) instinctually seeks to return to the security enjoyed by man before the fall. This security is only experienced in relationship with God our Father. When the relationship with God was interrupted by sin, that security was lost. Like a newborn baby seeks for the mother’s breast, mankind seeks to return to the security once known. Reaching for accomplishments and fame, humans seek the milk of security from objects rather than relationship with God our Father. These treasures are not living and cannot offer the acceptance we long for. Pride is the feeling of worth apart from relationship. This false version of love will never satisfy our yearning to know and be known; to find security in unconditional acceptance.

Like fear, pride is a form of behavioral change with unsustainable results. Rather than addressing the underlying relational disturbance (either relationship with self, God, or others), some counseling philosophies focus on tracking behavior and rewarding self sufficiency rather than interdependency. At Apollos Center, love provides an atmosphere of acceptance and the security needed to explore the internal landscape and discover transformation.

Fear and pride are powerful energizers, but they both prove to be fuel that runs dry before we reach our goal. If God is love, and God is infinite and eternal; love is a fuel that will never run out (1 Cor. 13:8) But does this fuel have the power to change us? Consider this description of love from 1 Cor. 13:

Love is patient and kind; loved does not envy or boast, it is not arrogant or rude.

 It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing; but rejoices with the truth.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

As I consider the common complaints that bring my clients to counseling, this list demonstrates the power of love to dissolve the effects of sin. Nothing is more powerful to transform lives than the love of Jesus Christ. Whether seeking treatment for afflictions and divergence of the mind, body, or spirit, the love of Jesus Christ is the fuel that will endure the path back to right relationship with God and the healing and transformation found in Him.