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Remember the last time you were off on holiday, and the day before you jetted off into the sunset for a couple of weeks was by far the most productive day you ever had at work?! You managed to hit deadlines that had been hanging over you for weeks, clear the ‘to-do’ list which had spent the last month simply getting longer, tidied your desk, found your stapler and washed up all the dirty mugs in the kitchen just for good measure. “Wow!” You thought to yourself as you skipped down the road, “why don’t I get that much done on a normal day?!”

The answer is of course, you were motivated! Suddenly something had come into focus which provided you with a real desire to get-up-and-go. The normal motivations have worn off, the pay cheque has become not enough…but a holiday with a clear desk…now that is something worth getting your head down for!

Motivation is a powerful thing. It is easier to keep up the gym routine if the motivation of not letting down your mate who has also decided to get there at 5am drives you to get out of your warm bed. A diet gets stuck to more vigorously if you need to get into that special dress for an event in a month. The promise of a great qualification will motivate a student to work hard.

But motivation can also, if it is not understood and taken notice of, be poisonous. Far too many children around the world are well behaved, motivated only by the threat of a beating if they don’t sit still and be quiet. The motivation of unlimited power has led many a leader to become a dictator who answers to nobody.

Equally, it is possible to do things for God inspired by totally the wrong motivation. Anyone who has ever thought that they ought to get up a half hour earlier to read their Bible because that is a good Christian thing to do will also tell you of the guilt that came from the fact they just pressed the snooze button and rolled over!
For centuries, people have been trying to “please the gods”, except they weren’t really sure how or why. If that is the case, then you have to take a carpet bomb approach to worship. “I will sing some songs, give some money and join a charity just in case any of those things please the gods”… Which is all well and good, but that kind of thinking also leads to “I will sacrifice this child, or obey an abusive leader, or deny the rights of another…just in case any of those particular things appease this particular god”.

A guy called John, who knew Jesus really well wrote this in a letter towards the end of his life.

 God is love. whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him…there is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because He first loved us.
It illuminates the character of God, gives a clue as to what might please him, and suggests what our motivation might be…a right motivation, a good motivation, a healthy motivation. Sit with it for a while and we will unpack it more this week.