Why Do What We Do?
Devotional Thought of the Day:
1 Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. 2 But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night. 3 They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.
Psalm 1:1-3 (NLT)
9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
Ephesians 2:9-10 (NLT)
668 Do everything unselfishly, for pure love, as if there were neither reward nor punishment. But in your heart foster the glorious hope of Heaven.
Educators and sociologists talk about modifying behavior using either positive or negative reinforcement. You can withhold either, or you can give either. One of the four options should work, though not always the same one in the same context.
But the concept is still a form of discipline, a way to train behavior. It is needed in many contexts, as we work with children, as scholars and soldiers, doctors and musicians are trained.
It is not surprising then that we see that kind of thought among preachers and pastors, among church leaders. That we think hell is the greatest negative reinforcement, the harshest of punishments and heaven as the ultimate in rewards. (We often hear it called paradise for that reason!)
But the disconnect is found in that heaven isn’t a reward for work done. We don’t get to heaven because we’ve been good, and we deserve hell because we aren’t. So the idea of using reinforcement in sermons and lessons, well, it can’t be done! There is no threat, there is no reward.
So why be good? Why sacrifice temporal pleasure and “fun” to love sacrificially? Why deny yourself, discipline yourself? Why obey God?
St Josemaria tells us that it is for love, simply to love the God who has loved us. St John in His first epistle agrees. His love is what causes us to be able to love, but I don’t think it is so much of a cognitive action. That is I don’t think we see God’s love and make a conscious decision to return that love.
We just do.
It is how God has planned for us to live, and without considering it, it happens.
Which is where the Psalm so beautifully describes it,
We are like trees planted along the riverbank. Nurtured by the water – given life by it and what it brings and deposits in the soil, nourished by the light (the glory of God) that shines on its leaves. We produce the fruit – the love and other fruits of the spirit, because we are planted and nourished in that love rich environment.
This is our life! TO live in Christ, to abide in God, to have the indwelling Holy Spirit of God. TO live in His peace and rest, to be shepherded and compelled to love.
This is why the Christian does what they do.
Not manipulated, it is who we are, who God created and recreated us to be!
To God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit be all glory, honor and praise, and our lives. AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 1556-1557). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.