I have been thinking a lot about something the pastor said Sunday during church. He was preaching on Matthew 23 where Jesus exposed the Pharisees for what they were. There was one question asked that I can’t seem to shake: are my actions based on blessings I receive or based on my love for God? In other words, do I do certain things with the hope of a reward or because I really love the Lord and want my life to be a reflection of that? I would like to think that I really do love God and that that love is manifested in the way I live my life. But, when I really think about it sometimes my motives are much more selfish. I do love God and I so desire for that love to be pure and for my actions to be righteous. However, sometimes I really expect some great blessing or want to be fulfilled simply by doing something good.
The opposite is also true. When I sin, I automatically think, “Well, now I’m probably not going to get that thing I’ve been praying for.” It seems as if I see my Christian walk as a series of rewards and punishments based on my actions. Yes, sometimes that is how the Lord works. Blessing the faithful and punishing the wicked. But, I should not live my life with that thought. I should not live for the Lord merely to get something I’ve been wanting for a while. I should live for the Lord because I love Him and because I want my life to be a reflection of Him.
Living for the Lord with pure motives and righteous thoughts is so much more fulfilling. Instead of constantly being concerned of what I can get out of it, my thoughts should be completely on God and glorifying Him for all He is. I do not deserve any blessings. I do not deserve anything good from the hand of God. I should be astounded by the fact that He lavishes His love and grace and mercy and blessings on me when He would be totally in the right not to. I should be overwhelmed by His goodness, not able to contain my praise and gratitude towards Him. But, instead I’m mostly thinking in the back of my mind what I may get out of it. Oh, how I long for it not to be so. Oh, how I long to love the Lord with a pure heart. Oh, how I long to really live my life completely for Him, free from selfishness.
I begin to get really discouraged when I realize I will never be able to truly fulfill that. I am covered by the grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and praise be to Him for that! But, I still live on this side of eternity. I still am affected by sin. I still struggle with evil thoughts, and sometimes act on them. I will continue to make mistakes, even when it is my greatest desire to live in righteousness. I will continue to have selfish motives, even when I truly desire for my love to be pure. Focusing too much on this, I begin to lose my hope.
Then, I remember that my hope does not lie in the here and now. My hope lies in the future. My hope lies in promise of God of eternal life for all who believe (Titus 1:2, 3:5-7). My hope lies in the fact that in the future I will be able to live completely free of sin. There is coming a day when my motives are going to be pure and righteous. I will finally live in glory with the One in whose glory I live for now (Romans 8:18-25). This hope for what is to come helps me live my life with greater purpose. I must endure this life and all it brings for now. But, it will only last a short while.
Soon, all of my true longings and desires will be fulfilled. Soon, everything I hope and dream for will take place. I will see Jesus face to face and experience the full glory and light of God. I will be surrounded only by those who love the Lord and we will praise and glorify Him for the rest of eternity. Free from anguish. Free from selfishness. Free from the pains and tears of this life. Free from the frustration of living in sin and making mistakes. Free from every single thing that separates me from God right now. What a glorious day that will be! So, I must keep my mind on this hope in the future. It makes today worth living.
Thank you, Lord, for this future hope and may You be glorified in what I do today!