We were scurrying around the kitchen, getting things ready for lunch. No, the baby was crying in his seat, the older boys were loudly running their trucks around my feet, and I was trying to get things ready for lunch. I reached for a spoon that I had placed on the counter only moments earlier, and surprisingly, (well, not really surprisingly with a whole lot of little, busy hands in the house) my hand returned empty. I looked down at the boys. “Okay, guys, who took the spoon from the counter?” Nathaniel muttered a quick, “not me”, then scooted out of the room quickly, as though his absence would eliminate him as a suspect. I turned to Landon. “How about you? Did you take it?” Landon stopped his playing, and looked up at me. He was quiet for a moment, almost as if contemplating his choice. He nodded his small, blond head and fished the lost spoon out of the back of his pick-up. “I want to tell the truth, Mommy. It’s a gift to Jesus”. As, Landon went back to his playing, I repeated his words in my head. A gift? It was the Christmas season, and we had been teaching our boys that we could give gifts to Jesus by our kindness to others, but telling the truth was not a gift. It was an act of obedience. Something we as parents required of our children, and even more, something our Lord requires of us. But a gift? I have chewed over his words the last few days, and the more I think about it, I think my sweet boy has gotten it right.
More often than not, when I obey the Lord, I realize what is the ‘right thing’ to do, and I do it. It becomes my duty, an obligation to fulfill. But, what should drive me to want to know and obey God? According to Paul, it is the love of Christ: “For Christ’s love compels us (2 Cor. 5:14).
In one of my favorite books, Discipline of Grace, Jerry Bridges points out just that:
“To live no longer for ourselves but for Him is the essence of discipleship…But what is it that will motivate us to live not for ourselves but for Him? Paul said it is the love of Christ…Notice though, what compelled or motivated Paul in such a strong manner. It was not a continual challenge to be more disciplined, or more committed, or more holy. Rather it was his constant heartfelt awareness of Christ’s love for him…Rather his overwhelming sense of Christ’s love for him that spurred him on.
We believers do need to be challenged to a life of committed discipleship, but that challenge needs to be based on the gospel, not on duty or guilt. Duty or guilt may motivate us for awhile, but only a sense of Christ’s love for us will motivate us for a lifetime.”
So, can obedience be a gift to Jesus? I think so. After becoming aware of God’s great love for us, even if it is only a glimpse, how can we be anything but thankful that we are His chosen? And what can we give back to show our gratitude? Only obedience to His words.
What do you think of this kind of gift? What does an awareness of Christ’s love mean for you? I would love to hear your thoughts!