A young woman is preparing a pot roast while her friend looks on. She cuts off both ends of the roast, prepares it and puts it in the pan. “Why do you cut off the ends?” her friend asks. “I don’t know,” she replies. “My mother always did it that way and I learned how to cook it from her.”
Her friend’s question made her curious about her pot roast preparation. During her next visit home, she asked her mother, “How do you cook a pot roast?” Her mother proceeded to explain and added, “You cut off both ends, prepare it and put it in the pot and then in the oven.” “Why do you cut off the ends?” the daughter asked. Baffled, the mother offered, “That’s how my mother did it and I learned it from her!
Her daughter’s inquiry made the mother think more about the pot roast preparation. When she next visited her mother in the nursing home, she asked, “Mom, how do you cook a pot roast?” The mother slowly answered, thinking between sentences. “Well, you prepare it with spices, cut off both ends and put it in the pot.” The mother asked, “But why do you cut off the ends?” The grandmother’s eyes sparkled as she remembered. “Well, the roasts were always bigger than the pot that we had back then. I had to cut off the ends to fit it into the pot!”Do you ever think about why we do the things we do? What motivates and influences our actions and responses?
Certainly, there are many things that influence our actions and responses. Some things we've learned from our parents, as shown in the above story. Those with whom we spend our time, our culture, abuses, work experiences, all these things contribute to how we think and, ultimately, how we act.
Is it important to know and understand why we do the things we do? It is if we believe Proverbs 4:23.
Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts. (Pro 4:23)So what is the major influence in your life? Jerry Bridges, in his book The Discipline of Grace says, "There is no neutral sphere of influence. We are being influenced by the forces of sinful society or we are being influenced by the Word of God." [click to tweet]
Most of us fall somewhere in between these two points of influence. Your attitude toward the word of God and how often you read and study the word will determine how close you are to one point or the other.
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night. (Psa 1:1-2)Let's assume our major influences have been good. We were taught as children to do good. Perhaps we even follow the moral code of the Bible. But what is our motivation to do good? Is it simply a habitual response to our influencers or a desire for the good opinion of others?
When we fail, are we distressed because we have dishonored God or is our response one of pride because our self-esteem is lowered in the sights of others? [click to tweet]
So what is the motivation behind our actions? Are we committed to a set of moral values or are we committed to God? George MacDonald suggests the following,
"Instead of asking yourself whether you believe or not, ask yourself whether you have this day done one thing because He said, Do it, or once abstained because He said, Do not do it. It is simply absurd to say you believe, or even want to believe in Him, if you do not anything He tells you."We won't seek to please God with our actions or be aggrieved when we fail Him if we don't relate to Him as our heavenly Father. [click to tweet]
The apostle Paul urges us toward a commitment to God and holiness.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Rom 12:1)
If this commitment to pursuing holiness seems overwhelming to you, remember, "A soldier unresolved to fight may be easily defeated."1 Remember, too, that God does not only ask us for this commitment, He provides us with the grace which enables us to do it.
Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Heb 13:20-21)
Taking a hard look at what motivates our actions gives us an honest perspective on where we are in our pursuit of holiness. Wherever you may find yourself, do not be discouraged. The pursuit of holiness is a life-long journey that is never fully realized this side of heaven.
And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Php 1:6)
1. Commentary by Stephen Charnock
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