“The True Driving Force In Authentic Christian Living”


steam-289008_1280What is the primary motivation for a believer in Jesus Christ to live the Christian life?  What should drive us to (as Paul says in Romans 12:1) offer up our bodies as living sacrifices, “holy and acceptable to God”?

Guilt? Fear? The hope of gain? Trying to earn God’s favor or stay in His good graces?  While we may find ourselves from time to time being motivated by any number of those things in our pursuit of living the Christian life, none of those things are the proper fuel for the Christian’s engine, so to speak.

Trying to live the Christian life through guilt, fear, or the hope of gain is a lot like trying to drive a car with no gas and four flat tires. You just won’t get very far at all.

So what should motivate us offer up our bodies as a living sacrifice?  In Romans 12:1 Paul says that we should do so “by the mercies of God.” In other words, God’s mercy and grace toward us in the gospel of Jesus Christ should motivate us.  So our primary motivation should be, not fear or guilt, but gratitude.

In his book, Rediscovering Holiness, J.I. Packer writes,

The secular world never understands Christian motivation. Faced with the question of what makes Christians tick, unbelievers maintain that Christianity is practiced only out of self-serving purposes. They see Christians as fearing the consequences of not being Christians (religion as fire insurance), or feeling the need of help and support to achieve their goals (religion as a crutch), or wishing to maintain a social identity (religion as a badge of respectability). No doubt all these motivations can be found among the membership of churches: it would be futile to dispute that. But just as a horse brought into a house is not thereby made human, so a self-seeking motivation brought into the church is not thereby made Christian, nor will holiness ever be the right name for religious routines thus motivated. From the plan of salvation I learn that the true driving force in authentic Christian living is, and ever must be, not the hope of gain, but the heart of gratitude. (p.75)

So if you want some practical advice on living the Christian life, one of the most helpful things you should do (although certainly not the only thing) is to consider and mediate upon the mercies of God in the gospel.  In the words of Psalm 103:2, we must “forget not all his benefits.”

The more we grasp the greatness of God’s mercies and grace toward us in Jesus Christ, the more we will be filled with gratitude and love for our God & Savior.  And that will be the true driving force in our discipleship.


  1. Well, I certainly agree with everything stated.However,sometimes I feel there is a missing ingredient of love. And as I view myself introspectively, I seem to fall short. The old song, “They’ll know we are Christians by our love”should be the torch song of all believers and sometimes I feel it’s sadly lacking, myself being perhaps the chief culpret. I think Satan knows his time is short & uses the spread of unsubstantiated gossip to control peoples opinions.

    1. The problem is the misunderstanding of Biblical Love in my opinion!!!! This is a higher & holier love that we are called too. The world we live in & way too many Christians confuse this cheap worldly love with biblical & Godly love!!!! We are to have & show the kind of love that always wants the highest & best for all time for the individual!!!! Not the kind of love that wants them to be happy for the time being!!!! It’s most often a tough love…a love that tells them what they need to know & not what they necessarily what they want to hear!!!!

      We do a great disservice to Christ & Christianity when we carry ourselves as Christians loving like the world loves!!! That was not Jesus example!!! Jesus loved the Pharisees but called them hypocrites…He loved the people that He called liars & said they were from the father of lies & on & on!!! We must love others enough to tell them that they are heading for destruction & that there is no way under heaven………to get to heaven except through Jesus!!! We can be very kind as we do it but after a while we’ve got to take a stand & be a little bolder with our message!!!

      If a worldly person says that this guy must a great Christian…I can tell by how loving he is….it’s not usually because he sees the love of God but the love of world in him!!! They can not understand Godly love if they have not been enlightened!!!

      I feel the burden to love too…but I’m more concerned that Jesus sees my love & not so much the people that don’t understand Godly love!!! They will know we are Christians by our fruit & perfect love cast out fear…the worldly people don’t understand what perfect love is!!!!

      Godly Love should be our motivation!!!

  2. Hi Gary! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

    The idea of gratitude as our motivation certainly does not exclude love as a motivation for living the Christian life. (Gratitude is not the only motivation for our obedience to the will of God.) You could even say that gratitude (in a sense) is a big part of the motivation for loving the Lord and for loving one another. As 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.”

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