As a Christian, I sometimes used to do things because I felt like I had to do them. I felt pressured. I felt guilty. I think it was at its worst when I realized that I was dreading my weekly discipling times with my best friend. I had lost sight of our friendship. Instead, I would think how I HAD to confess sin. It had all become something I HAD to do, and not something I wanted to do. My motivations were often because I knew would have someone call me out if I didn’t do what I was supposed to do. There was always a pressure on me to do the right things.
In 2003 there were a lot of changes in our fellowship of churches. The “have to” was taken away. Slowly, I started learning to do things because I WANTED to do them. How wonderful it felt to have a more pure motivation — to only do things out of sheer inspiration. At the apex of this time, I wrote a musical called, “My Soul is Dancing.” This musical expressed exactly how I was feeling — deeply joyful in heart.
Obedience and fear of God are good, but there’s just something great about doing the right thing because it’s your idea. I had to push my kids through their academics in high school, pressuring them to make good grades. In college, it was up to them. Each of them decided on their own to make good grades. It was their idea. It was much better.
For years, I wanted Ken to have make some spiritual changes in his life. For years he heard people tell him what he should do, but the changes only happened when he was ready and it was his idea. (I want to be sure and qualify that God was a huge part of this, as He always is.)
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. II Cor 9:7
So my spiritual growth has been reveling in developing a pure, wonderful, organic relationship with God.
Now I feel like I am having to reevaluate. It is becoming clear to me that I shy away from helping people with sin in their lives because I don’t want it to be a legalistic pressure like I experienced. Yet I often haven’t been able to help them develop the heart to deal with the sin themselves. The sin goes on, weighing them down, holding them back, disrespecting God.
Do I need to just call out people’s sins more? I do think there need to be more honest loving conversations where we can talk about what is really going on. I need to not avoid these talks.
But how do I do this, and be sure that I am helping them have the RIGHT motivation? This really troubles me.
There is great value in obedience for the sake of obedience. “If you hold to my teachings, you are really my disciples…”
But even in raising children, the goal is not to have them make the right choices just because they are supposed to, but to help them develop the character that will make the right choices.
That is what I want for others. That is what I want to continue in myself.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Ps 51:10
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Matt 5:8
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Ezek. 36:26