What motivates you in life? What you have to do? What you want to do? Those two statements often rise to the surface when you think of any given day and the things you know you have to accomplish and the things you wish you could accomplish. We're often motivated by what we know we're responsible to do even though that isn't always the case, is it? We all think we're responsible people but when it come down to the "nuts and bolts" of life, we don't always fulfill our responsibilities, do we? We tend to do what we're forced to do, by our jobs, by our mates, by our own self-esteem. We do what we do because "that's what I do." Life isn't very thrilling and exciting if that's all that life is about.
Now, think on this and what I share here is something I heard probably 25 to 30 years ago. A speaker came to a Men's Breakfast and spoke on the 5 Motivations of Life for a Christian man. (Obviously, Christian women can benefit from this too!) He said he heard these things from someone else and he was passing them on to us. Well, I'm basically doing the same thing here. So, here are the 5 Motivations of Life:
1. They need me - I do what I have to do because someone needs me to do it. Even if I don't want to do what I do, I'm still expected to do it anyway.
2. I fear God - That's especially true of a Christian, but this can also include the idea of fearing my boss, my spouse, of anyone who has some kind of authority in my life. I'm motivated out of fear of reprisal if I don't do what I'm expected to do.
3. There are Rewards - I do what I do because of the rewards of doing so. My paycheck is such a thing. I don't get it if I don't work for it. Smiles, hugs, and other forms of affection are also rewards. It's nice to please people and feel their approval. Sometimes, it's my own satisfaction of a job well done that excites me.
4. I love God - Now, most people would put this as the greatest motivator of all! Why, if I love God, then I must be at the pinnacle of activity! I would do anything for Him and for those I love. My love is important. Isn't that what Jesus spoke of in Revelation 2:4 when He criticized the Ephesian believers because they had "left their first love?" If I really love God and love everyone else as I should, wouldn't that be pleasing to Him? My love for God should be behind all I do and nothing could be greater. Or could there be something greater?
5. He loves me - Wow! When I heard the speaker say this I really wasn't expecting it. I guess (at that time) just how true this is. God really loves me. That's so basic yet so very true. He loves me. I'd do anything for someone who loves me and shows it. And that should be true of the greatest Someone! Let me illustrate this in a rather simplistic way: when my wife just wants to show me she loves me by just wanting to be with me is really a joy to my heart. I'd do anything for her, not only because I love her, but I know she loves me and would do anything for me. Her appreciation of me and her gratefulness for me is so much a motivator to me to do anything I could to show her how much I appreciate her love. Now, that's how it should be with God. If I really believe God loves me, then I'll do anything for Him. And one of the greatest things I can do with Him is what I do with my wife - desire to spend time with her, and certainly with God! How can I say I'm thrilled with God's love for me and then not spend much time with Him? My prayer life, my worship life, my service life, is all wrapped up in my understanding of just how much God loves me, appreciates me, and His desire to just spend time with me!!
Now, Christian, here is where I see something else in Revelation 2:4 about "leaving my first love." All too often we preach about our not loving God as we once did as the primary way to interpret this "leaving." We're encouraged to get back to loving God as we once did and make our love for Him the most important thing in our lives. How about "leaving His love for me?" What if what Jesus is saying is that we've stopped appreciating how much God loves us? Do I really see that God not only loved me enough to send His Son for me (John 3:16), but He still loves me intensely every single day? He enjoys me and wants to spend time with me! Wow! That's so neat! And why don't I enjoy that now as much as I once did? That may be what Jesus is really driving at in Revelation. We "left our first love" when we no longer desire to spend time with God. And this needs to be understood in relation to our working for God.
Please note that three times Jesus speaks of the Ephesian's "work, labor, and labored" in verses 2 and 3. They worked for God but that wasn't the same thing as just spending time with God. Illustration: I can do a lot for my wife, but she really appreciates that I spend time with her. That not only shows how much I love her, but it also shows how much I appreciate her love for me. The same is true with God. He doesn't want us to get so wrapped up in our service to Him as much as He wants us to just spend time with Him! When we do, sure, our love for Him will grow, but He really wants us to appreciate His love to spend time with us. God loves me and wants to spend time with me! That is what pleases Him more than anything!