Over the past several weeks, we have been exploring the concept of how we “frame” our lives. In other words, what are the primary motivations that drive our thoughts, words, actions, and decisions? So far, we have looked at the frames of “Self-Righteousness,” “Guilt,” and “Fear,” and we have seen that these are poor choices, both practically and biblically. If we have chosen any of these frames for our lives, we will find them to be disappointing, frustrating, and disconnected from a real relationship with God.
As we conclude this study, let’s examine 3 “frames” that Scripture recommends for our lives. Although the Scripture doesn’t qualify or rank these motivators, we will examine these 3 frames in what some would consider a “logical” order.
THE FRAME OF PUNISHMENT
When we read the pages of the New Testament, we notice immediately that Jesus says a LOT about eternal punishment. In fact, Jesus says more about hell than any other biblical figure (and certainly more than most modern-day preachers), speaking about it dozens of times throughout His earthly ministry.
He described it in detail (Mt. 8:12; 25:30; Lk. 16:19-31).
He warned us to be mindful of it and prepared for it (Mk. 13:32-37; Mt. 25).
He wants us to be motivated (at least partially) by the fear of it (Mt. 10:28; 5:22; Mk. 9:43-48).
He knew that some (most, in fact) were on the path towards it (Mt. 7:13-14; 23:15, 33).
If the idea of eternal punishment DOESN’T motivate us and “frame” our lives (to some extent), then we haven’t properly understood it!
As a young child, I can remember that the fear of punishment was a FANTASTIC motivator for me. I did not want to be punished, and I did not want to get into trouble, so I was often motivated to do what I was supposed to do for that reason alone.
However, as I grew up, the fear of punishment (although it remained a factor) was not the greatest motivator in my life. It later became something else…
THE FRAME OF REWARD
At a certain age, I became more motivated by POSITIVE things than by NEGATIVE things. For example, if I was going to be paid for doing certain chores, I was much more motivated to do them. If I was going to get the keys to my dad’s truck on Friday night for making good grades, I was more likely to study a little bit longer.
God seems to understand that reward can be a powerful motivator, so He certainly uses it within the pages of the New Testament.
The concept of eternal reward in heaven is something that is mentioned many times in Scripture. Here are a few examples:
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” – Rom. 8:18
“But, as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him’.” – I Cor. 2:9
“Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.” – Jn. 6:27
“Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.” – I Cor. 9:25
Many other passages could be cited, but God has certainly made it clear that the promise of reward is a key motivator for His people. He WANTS us to desire heaven, and He has repeatedly used this as a motivating force in our lives, through His Word.
But, at some point, our motivation has to transcend punishment and reward, doesn’t it? As mature adults, we (hopefully) find our motivation shifting away from what might happen TO us or FOR us, and towards a greater framework…
THE FRAME OF LOVE
The Bible says, in no uncertain terms, that love is the greatest motivator we could possibly have. It is the greatest “frame” available, and it is something that all of us should aspire to build our lives upon.
Whether it is the example and sacrifice of Jesus (Jn. 3:16), the writings of Peter (I Pet. 4:8), or the profoundly impactful description given by the apostle Paul (I Cor. 13), love is held up as the ultimate and greatest possible reason behind anything/everything that we might do in this life.
In fact, if we DON’T have love as the driving force in our lives, we may find ourselves perpetually at odds with other people, as well as with God Himself.
Having love as our primary framework doesn’t always mean that we won’t have to correct, rebuke, discipline, or enter into conflict with others; in fact, it often means that we WILL have to do those things (see Rev. 3:19 and Heb. 12:5-11). However, if love is our “frame,” we will do these things for the right reasons, always seeking the good of the other person.
Does love frame your life? When you enter into conflict with another person, is it because you want to “win,” or is it because you love them and you want to work things out God’s way? When you serve someone, is it because you want others to see you, or is it driven by love? When we share our faith, is it because we want to be right, or because of the love that we have for their soul? It is not always easy to allow love to frame our lives, but it is the very best way to live. Anything else is a cheap imitation, and is bound to “break” at some point.
Thanks for visiting the Framing Department over the past few weeks, and I hope and pray that you will reflect on what the Bible says about these important issues and choose wisely!
May God bless us all as we attempt to live pure and unblemished lives in His service!