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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Why?

The other day I overheard two college students discussing a particularly difficult course. They were plotting together on various means by which they could avoid the serious amount of work required while still completing the class and getting a decent grade. I wondered, "What is the aim here?"

"Why?" is a favorite question of mine. That's what I was wondering about these two. You see, what they were doing was simple. "We're trying to do the best we can to pass this class with a good grade." But why they were doing it would determine what they would do and how they would go about it. You see, if the "why" was "In order to learn all I can about this particular subject", then "the serious amount of work" would not be avoided because the goal was to gather the information, not merely to "pass the class and get a decent grade". Why you do something has a huge effect on what you do and how you do it.

I have always delighted in asking people why they believe what they do. Even when they agree with me on something, why they believe what they do is very enlightening. "Oh, you believe Jesus is the only way to heaven? Why do you believe that?" "Well, I heard it from my pastor." You see, that's radically different from, "Well, I heard the Gospel and God opened my eyes and I realized that it was the truth, so I submitted to it. Since then, my life has changed in marvelous ways." Both of these two imaginary people hold the same belief, but one will necessarily be much more tenuous than the other. Why you do something has a huge effect on what you do and how you do it.

"Let all that you do be done in love" (1 Cor 16:14).

When Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment, He gave really only one answer. It took two directions, but it was one thing. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and ... love your neighbor as yourself" (Matt 22:37-39). It is the hallmark of being a Christian (John 13:35). It is the fulfillment of the law (Gal 5:14). Why do you do what you do? If it is not for love, then I would suggest it's going to fall short. If you encourage someone for something other than love, it's "a tinkling cymbal". If you give to the poor for some reason other than love, you gain nothing. If you correct your child's behavior without love, you're wasting your time. Love is the singular "why", the ultimate proper motivation. You can sing praises to God without love and it profits you nothing. But, motivated by genuine love (rather than the poor imitation we see so often today), you can do the smallest thing and it is an act of obedience, a moment of worship, a sweet fragrance to God.

Why you do something has a huge effect on what you do and how you do it. Doing the right thing for the wrong reasons won't work. But love is the right thing, the right reason. And when that is the motivation, all sorts of problems are solved and questions answered. Let all that you do be done in love.

3 comments:

Dan said...

I just sat and talked to a co-worker for about an hour. He said that what was wrong with America was the 4 R's. So I asked what were the 4 R's? He said Ronald Reagon and the Religious Right. (He knew nothing about me) So with this post in mind I asked him why? He asked how much time I had. I told him plenty. He then said that he didn't have enough time and that it would take too much time. So there you go.

Interestingly enough, as we continued to talk, all of his complaints in life could be laid squarely in the laps of liberalism. How funny.

Stan said...

Some people can't answer "why?". Some people won't.

Marshall Art said...

Why did you write this? ;)