I use to work for a delivery company in Dallas, Texas, back the late ‘80’s. It wasn’t a difficult job, but the pressure to deliver packages on time and promptly made the job stressful. This was especially true when one-hour delivery was guaranteed and dispatch gave you 6 packages, all going in different directions. After an 8 to 10 hour day heading home is all I could think about. Inevitably I would get a call on the radio that a package needed picked up and delivered, and I was the only one in the vicinity. Though stated in the form of a question, there wasn’t really an option. For some, the idea of overtime money was appealing and they would jump at the chance. Not for me, money never motivated my compliance. I would rather be home with my family and playing with my children, then earning a couple of extra bucks. Of course I would take the assignment, because not to could threaten my employment.
Whenever we chose to do something, it is done out of some kind of motivation. It may be our love for God, our wife, our children, or church. It may be for money, power, or prestige. It could even be out of obligation, anger, jealousy, or resentment. Of course the highest form of motivation is love. The Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13, that if we do anything from a motivation other than love we are clanging cymbals. And there isn’t anything more annoying than obnoxious clanging.
I get up every morning, I go to my office to study the word, write, visit a parishioner, or spend time meditating and praying. I am often faced with the question of motivation. Why do I do what I do? Paul says, “For the love of Christ controls us” 2Cor. 5:14. The Greek word for control can be translated “devoting completely,” “gripped with,” suffering from,” or “hard-pressed.” I like “suffering from.” I am suffering from the love of Christ. When we are so gripped with, devoted completely to, hard-pressed by, or suffering from the love of Christ we cannot help but reach out, love, and care for other people. When we are captivated by His love, we see everything from a different perspective; our motivation changes.
It is hard to constantly be motivated by love, because people are not always easy to love. I know I’m not. I am sure, as many of you will attest to, I can get on people’s nerves, try their patience, and challenge their capacity to tolerate, and vice versa. It is in these moments that I must take a deep breathe and rely, not on my capacity to love, but on the love of Christ. It is the love of Christ that motivates me. It is His overwhelming grace that captivates my desires. It is His strength and power that allows me to rise above my situation and love other people. Any other motivation will be short lived. Especially for guys like me who are distracted by shiny things…squirrel!
Today, as I reflect on the Christmas Season, I am cognizant of how much God has loved me. I don’t deserve it. So why should I withhold love from others. I’m just saying….