Growing up, I was constantly reminded that I was worthless and would never amount to anything. My failures only seemed to showcase my inability to succeed, whereas even in those moments that would offer a glimmer of hope, the bad had already far outweighed the good.
Fast-forwarding to today, as an adult, I find myself constantly set out to prove myself to somebody, my mother, my boss, my wife, and my pastors—all an audience to be pleased.
Don’t get me wrong; our desire for approval and acceptance is fundamentally rooted in who we have been created to be, as relational beings. And I am certainly not saying that ambition in and of itself is a bad thing—not necessarily. But at the end of the day, we must all ask ourselves: “What’s my motivation?”
If approval from others is what motivates the direction our lives take, then we will never become more than just another identity-confused people-pleaser. If people’s perception of us is the measure by which we determine our own self-worth, then we have deviated from the image of God, and capitulated to the image of man.
God has created us, in His image, to be motivated by the magnitude of His mercy, and to marvel at the splendor of His majesty. God has created us to reflect His glory throughout the earth. We are the crowns of creation. So we mustn’t get caught up in the struggle to be like Christ (I am merely speaking of the lifeless act itself—religiosity), or to be like anyone else for that matter, but rather captivated by the acknowledgment that we are new creatures, called to enjoy God forever, and to rediscover the life that He intends for us to live, with Him. For it is the Christ that God sent to accomplish what no man could ever achieve, to lay down His very life for the sake of mankind, for the salvation of sinners.
God’s motivation to crush His one and only Son was His great love for the world, and His desire to see us reconciled to Him. Therefore, beloved, we ought to “love because He first loved us.”
What more motivation do we need?