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Motives for Obedience

The Bible does not record God’s commands in a lifeless list; they are interspersed throughout explanations of His marvelous plan for us. Sprinkled in among these instructions are motives for our obedience. Have you ever noticed how common they are? Consider one example, Ephesians 6:1-9, a paragraph addressed to children and slaves.

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (v. 1). Most of us have a sense of right and wrong, albeit not always exactly in keeping with God’s standard. God is always right. As long as we obey Him, we are right. Regardless of any other consideration, we ought to do what God says, for this is right.

“Honor your father . . . that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth” (vv. 2-3). Paul noted that this was a commandment with a promise. This particular promise is not absolute, but generally speaking it holds true. And it makes a good point. Some suggest that our choice is either sin and enjoy life now or obey God and benefit later. Not so. Godliness holds promise for the present life as well as the life to come (1 Timothy 4:8). Although we may have a hard time seeing it in some specific application, the Lord’s commands are always for our good (Deuteronomy 6:24).

“Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters . . . as slaves of Christ” (vv. 5-6). We are slaves of Christ, you know. He bought us with His blood. Belonging to him, forever indebted to Him, we are obligated to do His will. “For you have been bought with a price; therefore, glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:20).

With good will render service . . .” (v. 7). The summary obligation we have toward others is to love our neighbor as ourselves. And what is the loving thing to do? Whatever God commands! Paul said all the commands are summed up in this one (Romans 12:9). If you want to do good to others, to be a blessing, God’s commands are the only way to go.

“. . . knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free” (v. 8). It is both comforting and motivating to know that God will recompense every good deed. Of course, He will also pay back the evil ones, which is also a powerful motivation to obey Him.

As you study, look for the various motives embedded among God’s commands. They are there to help us.

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