It’s a busy time right now at school for us teachers. The end of the nine week grading period is upon us and it’s always a hectic time. Kids are scrambling to get assignments completed, and I’m working to get grades posted in the grade book. This is also the time of year where I try giving some extra motivation to my students, to encourage them to work harder for the next nine weeks and see if they can make any improvements.
It’s always interesting watching students react to their grades. They always know what their grade is throughout their time in school, but when report card time hits, it becomes much more real for them. The ones who have an A or B are usually pretty happy and proud and are looking forward to showing their parents how they did. The students who scored a D or F usually begin to panic and worry about how their parents will react. For an 8-year-old, the idea that they may punished for a bad grade is, in most occasions, enough motivation for them to try harder.
You see, my goal as a teacher is to try to teach students how to be intrinsically motivated. It’s good to want to perform well for their parents or so they don’t get grounded, but it’s even better for them to take pride in their own hard work and have some ownership for how they did. We’re all that way to some degree. We work long hours at work to earn that paycheck. We show love to our family and friends in hopes that they will reciprocate with actions of gratitude. Athletes train consistently in order to win the game. We’re all extrinsically motivated to some degree and need to find ways to be internally satisfied with our performance.
But it’s a little bit different in our relationship with God. We don’t have to work ahead of time to earn his love and good favor. In fact, he offers us more than we could ever want even before we realize who he is. Does that mean there’s no response on our part to God’s love? Absolutely not! The love of God should compel us to react in a certain way.
“14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”
(2 Corinthians 5:14-15)
Because of God’s love, we die to ourselves. Because of God’s love, we decide to dedicate our lives in service to Christ. Because of God’s love, we change our entire mindset to be God-focused instead of me-focused. We do this, not for his love, but because of his love. We do it because he deserves it.
“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.”