Monday, April 6

Some healthy motivation!

Scripture: 1 Samuel 1-2, Psalm 66, 2 Corinthians 7

2 Corinthians 7:1 Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.

Observation/application

The chapter and verse markings were not in Paul’s original letter—they were added centuries later for convenience.  

Paul begins this chapter by referring to “these promises”—what promises?  He is referencing the last few verses of chapter 6, where he quotes several Old Testament passages that promise that God will live and walk among us, that He will be our God and we will be His people, and that He will be our Father and we will be His children.  Great promises!

These promises should motivate us to clean up!  Since God is with me and I am His child, I should get rid of anything that could defile (contaminate) my body or spirit.  Is there anything in your life that is contaminating you?  Dragging you down?  Anything that is a bad influence?  Last night, Laina and I were disappointed when an artist we admire offered a song for all of us during this difficult time—and the song encouraged us to drown our sorrows in alcohol.  Not helpful.  Are there influences in your life that are negative or unhelpful?  Get rid of anything that is unhelpful, or that contaminates or drags you down.  Clean up!

And these promises should motivate us to “work toward complete holiness because we fear God.” 

What does it mean to “work toward complete holiness” or “perfecting holiness” as the NIV says?  Aren’t we made holy by Jesus?  Yes.  And as in so many other things, we grow into what is already true of us.  The word “holy” means “set apart, dedicated to God.”  When we trust Jesus, He sets us apart for God—we are holy; we are saints (literally, “holy ones”).  We now belong to God.  But we are also easily distracted from our dedication!  Hence, we “work toward complete holiness;” we make deliberate choices to be holy, to become what God says we are.  So a similar question is appropriate here: What keeps you from being fully dedicated to God?  What derails your devotion?

This effort to be holy is motivated by the fear of God: “because we fear God.”  What does it mean to fear God?  There is healthy and unhealthy fear—this fear of God is healthy fear.  Unhealthy fear is servile, cowering—imagine someone who has been constantly beaten, physically or verbally, until they cower in the presence of their abuser.  Healthy fear is respectful—I stay away from the edge of the cliff at the Grand Canyon!  I don’t turn my back on the ocean.  And I’m staying at home in this viral crisis.  Am I cowering in fear, unable to enjoy the Grand Canyon, the ocean or being with my wife at home?  No!  I enjoy them all! I’m simply being respectful towards a power larger than me—and that respect actually enhances my enjoyment! 

A great example of this healthy fear is one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite books, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis.  The children have just met Mr. and Mrs. Beaver and are learning about Aslan for the first time.

“Is—is he a man?” asked Lucy. 

“Aslan a man!” said Mr. Beaver sternly.  “Certainly not.  I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion—the Lion, the great Lion.”

“Ooh!” said Susan.  “I’d thought he was a man.  Is he—quite safe?  I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”

“That you will, dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver; “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.” 

“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs Beaver tells you?  Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe.  But he’s good.  He’s the King, I tell you.”  (Ch. 8)

Anyone who can stand before God without their knees knocking, they are just silly or don’t know Whom they’re facing!  

A healthy fear of the Lord combined with an appreciation of His promises helps us “work toward complete holiness.”

Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your great promises, for being with us, being our Father.  Help us to see You as You are, and let that motivate us to full devotion!