- Religion and Philosophy
What Motivational Speakers Won't Tell You
Did He Really Say That?
Sometimes a Scripture text can jump off the page at you, as though you had never read it before. Your first thought is, "I can't believe it says that!" For me one of those "off the page" Scriptures is Romans 14:23. "Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin." Whoops! Misquoted that. It begins "For whatever..." I'll get back to that.
Sin is usually defined as an action that displeases God either by violating his commands or by ignoring them. So we think of particular actions like lying or gossiping or stealing. We may even go deeper and realize that having the thought, even if not acted on, displeases God. But Paul goes even further than that. He asserts that any ("whatever") action, even the noblest, displeases God if it doesn't proceed from faith.
Dan Clark - Motivational speaker
Context, Context, Context
That little word "for" helps us understand Paul's meaning. Romans 14 addresses a sticky issue every sincere Christian faces. What to do when there's no line of Scripture that specifically instructs you on the matter. This text addresses two hot issues of the first century. May Christians eat meat that had previously been consecrated to idols? In those days a heathen butcher would honor his god by first offering his cuts of meat to him and then selling it on the open market. So does a follower of Christ buy that meat or not? If he does, would he, in effect, be worshiping the butcher's god? If he doesn't, he goes without meat.
The other issue has to do with sabbath keeping. Must Christians observe the sabbath and other holy days according to Old Testament instructions? Sincere Jews were offended by Christians enjoying gospel freedom to worship on any day of the week, ignoring some of the strictures of the Old Testament. So what is the follower of Jesus to do? If he jettisons the sabbath he appears to reject the very God he worships; if he observes it according to the Old Testament, he denies the freedom Jesus died to secure.
Back to basics
"For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking (or sabbath keeping - my addition) but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14:17). In other words, "don't get hung up on the minutiae." We live according to a world and life system that let's God be god and focuses on loving others, even our enemies; and if our enemies, certainly our brothers and sisters who choose differently. Paul reminds all parties that it is before God that we stand or fall. (Rom.14:10-12) Our calling, then, is to display in ourselves the values of Christ's kingdom without judging others.
What motivates you?
That really is the bottom line. To behave in a manner that "proceeds from faith" is to be motivated by kingdom principles. Anything short of this displeases God and is, therefore, sin. It's not a bad idea to ask yourself as you embark on your next chore (picking up a kid at school, fixing dinner, going to work, meeting a friend at Panera, going to church, giving to Wounded Warriors, or paying the mortgage) "Why am I doing this?"
A motivation that proceeds from faith will be marked by 1) thankful awareness that God is with you; 2) by relief that, whether you succeed or fail, you are loved (not merely tolerated) by God; 3) by anticipation of God's work through you; 4) by a longing to put others first; and 5) by the assurance that God is in control.
You mean I have to think about all that before I drive my kid to school? Well, how much thought do you put into driving the van into which your child is safely strapped? Of course, you're careful, but steering, breaking, observing traffic is all second nature by now. So it can be with behaving in a manner that "proceeds from faith."
So you blow it!
Of course not every action will "proceed from faith." When it doesn't, you've sinned. So? Are you surprised? There will be times when you are very aware of selfish, maybe even hateful, motives. Often, whether or not God approves isn't even on your radar. You're in survival mode.
One of the things I love about God is that He's big enough to handle my being little. A loving mother doesn't lash out in anger when her son fails to thank her for his lunch. She hugs him and knows that eventually he'll learn gratitude. God loves you more than any mother ever loved her son. So on those days your motives go awry let yourself feel his hug and remember that He already loves you as much as He ever will. He proved that by sending his Son to die for your sins.