At the entrance of 2015 I returned to working out. Although, my past “work outs” were in a dojo, I joined a gym in January. I felt I needed to stay healthy and in shape in order to enjoy life and be comfortable in my own skin. But my motivation was not to lose weight. Joining a gym had a deeper motivation than the obvious reasons for joining a gym:
fitting into smaller size clothes
impressing other people
My motivation was not because I felt the social pressure of living in the fittest state in the Union (Colorado). I have a desire to stay healthy because my boys need a dad to guide them through life. One who can climb trees, camp, skate, play catch, snowboard, clean out the gutters, build school or Scout projects, work on the car, etc. They need a dad who sets for them a good example of balance, moderation and health. One who will live long enough to walk beside them as they learn to be fathers themselvies.
I say all this because I think finding the deeper motivations in life reveals mysteries and maturity. When we stop at the easy, surface answers for our “Why” questions we live sallow lives. We short ourselves the experience and riches of true understanding. It was Socrates who said, “Unexamined life is not worth living.” and it is the unexamined life that is a false life.
With this kind of thinking rolling around in my head I have struggled to find the deeper motivation behind larger more important issues in my life, e.g. words I use, actions I take, plans I make. Foremost on this list is my sin. I have wondered for sometime why I keep returning to the same sin over and over again. Not just for years, but for decades (Proverbs 26:11). I have asked, “why have quiet times, Bible studies, worship service, mission trips and times of volunteering with the church not stripped me of my sinful desires?” Where does the drive to continually offend the character and the will of the God I say I love and serve come from? Over the years the “sin management” approach has not worked. Clearly, roots lie beneath the surface giving life to the fruit of my sin. There is a motivation deeper than fun, anger, excitement, lust, loneliness, convenience, etc. at work in my life.
Knowing humans in their fallen condition are selfish to the core, I can’t help but think this is where the deeper motivation resides. I want what I want when I want it, plan and simple. Being selfish allows me to create the foolish and misinformed perspective that I am accountable to no one, I can grant myself permission to act according to my base nature and one that offers a little indulgence now and again. In doing this I have opt’d for me-centered theology, replacing the proper order of a God center motif. In doing this I have tricked myself into believing I am the authority in my life and I can do whatever I desire.
To potentially combat my selfishness I have started asking myself an aligning question. “Which do I want more: God’s favor or my desire?” Behind this question is a set of alternatives I face when I feel weak:
Please God vs. Please myself
Live according to the will of God vs. Live according to my own will
Maintain my relationship with God through Christ vs. damage my relationship with God
Surrender vs. Oppose
Eternal vs. Temporal
Humble myself vs. Aggrandize myself
Maturity vs. Immaturity
Follow vs. Lead
Holiness vs. Depravity
This question (and these alternatives) are designed to give me pause as I reflect on my deeper motivations. If I stop at the sallow surface postures of fun, anger, excitement, lust, loneliness, convenience, etc., then I usually give into temptation. But, if I push past the easy surface motivates into what the ramifications of my desires will have on my relationship with God, others and myself, maybe I’ll abstain for a greater reason than guilt.
I am hopefully confident this is possible because of the transforming work of the Spirit of God in my life. Because of the sanctification process I can honestly say I am more interested in God’s blessing than satisfying my own desire. Am I am more interested in honoring God or myself. I am more interested in glorifying God than insulting him.
“He must increase, but I must decrease.”