Wednesday, January 21, 2009

CHAPTER 9: The Motivating Force of Love

Earlier we studied the second greatest commandment: "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." When we really love others as much as we love ourselves we will be concerned for their welfare, serving and treating them as we serve and treat ourselves. It is the love for God in us that motivates us to love, serve, and be concerned about our neighbors. Love is the purest form of motivation. Love comes from within. Loving inward motivation is the key to spiritual success and progress in God’s true order of life here upon this earth, and in His kingdom to come.

I have heard some say that there are three types of motivation. One type is the motivation by reward, such as holding a carrot on a stick out in front of a donkey to get it to pull a cart. Another is motivation by fear or punishment, such as getting a donkey to pull the cart by intimidating him with a whip. The problem with the first is that a donkey may not always want a carrot, or it may discover that no matter how much it pulls it will never reach it, so it quits pulling. The problem with the second is that the donkey may become calloused to the whip and quit pulling. The third type of motivation is based on attitude. It is motivation coming from within the individual, coming from a desire to do a certain thing or to be a certain way.

The three types of motivation are, however, based on only two principles or basic emotions: love and fear. The first two types of motivation mentioned above, are externally applied and based on fear: fear of punishment, or fear of not getting a reward. The third type of motivation, that of attitude, is based on love which is engendered from within. It is unfortunate that because of their rebellious natures, Jehovah often had to use motivation by fear (punishment or reward) to get the people of Israel to do what they were commanded to do. However, when Jesus lived upon the earth He presented a higher way, that of motivation by love.

Fear Is Not the Power of Faith
A doubtful heart can lead us to fear. There is a key to knowing the Spirit of the Lord. When once understood, the key will help elevate the spirit of doubt. The Spirit of God always produces joy and peace of mind. When you hear the spirit you are happy and you feel at peace; when you have another spirit you are not happy, and the feeling will be of agitation or conflict—doubt. The spirit of doubt is the spirit of the evil one.

Fear and doubt are tools of the devil. Love comes from God. "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." (2 Tim. 1:7.) If God does not give us the spirit of fear, then who does? It is from Satan, who is the author of fear. That which comes from the devil is not Holy, and if we possess that which is unholy, fear in this case, personal inspiration from the Holy Spirit is thwarted.

That Still Small Voice, which is as strong and sure as steel is our conscience. It is what helps lead us along our individual paths in life. To get it right with God, we first let go of fear and trust Him in love, holding on to hope and trusting the Spirit of God. After we have been found true and faithful to that Still Small Voice, we may then receive the baptism of fire.

There is an excellent little book entitled, Love Is Letting Go of Fear, by Gerald G. Jampolsky. In this superb book, Dr. Jampolsky points out that the opposite of love is fear. He says that love cannot exist where there is fear, and that fear cannot exist where there is love. He writes: "... there are only two emotions, love and fear. The first is our natural inheritance, and the other our mind manufactures. Fear always distorts our perception and confuses us as to what is going on. Love is the total absence of fear. Love asks no questions. Its natural state is one of extension and expansion, not comparison and measurement. Love, then, is really everything that is of value, and fear can offer us nothing because it is nothing." (Love Is Letting Go of Fear, pp. 2, 17.)

We must have faith, trust, and confidence in the Lord. Only purity of heart can assure Divine approval and a hope for continued communion with God. On the other hand, fear, that negative influence from Satan, only thwarts the work of God.

Confidence, With Nothing Wavering
The scripture from 2 Timothy, that we previously read, stated that God does not give us fear, but rather gives us "power," "love," and "a sound mind." Power, love, and a sound mind come because of confidence before the Lord.

Power comes from knowing where we stand before the Lord due to meekness in obedience; that is the true power of faith. When we know we are clean before Him we can approach Him with confidence, "nothing wavering." (James 1:5-6.) Love is a display of charity toward our fellow man, and obedience to the will of God because of true devotion to Him. It is trusting in His word, that He will give as we have given, forgive as we have forgiven, lift as we have lifted, and reward as we surrender our will to Him. A sound mind is having a love for God, and an eye single to God’s glory and the building of His kingdom. In Proverbs 14:26 we read, "In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge." We often hear that the word "fear" means love. What it really means is that we should fear God more than we fear man, or, we should love God more than we love man.

As discussed previously, confidence before the Lord is to know where we stand before Him. The way we have this confidence is to repent of everything no matter how small the sin, either the commission or omission of sin, and know that we stand approved before God. We must have the pure love of Christ, faith unto repentance, and purity of thought and motive. Then we have "confidence."

Love Is a Choice
It was stated initially that there are only two primary emotions, love and fear. Love comes from God and fear from Satan. All other emotions are secondary to these two basic ones and stem from them. Though many have not considered it, we are free to choose our emotions. We can choose love, and its secondary emotions such as faith, trust, joy, and so forth, or we can choose fear, and its secondary emotions such as anger, resentment, vindictiveness, and the like.

To help illustrate this, let’s consider a story of someone getting into an elevator. As the door to the elevator opens a man steps in, turns around, faces the door, then steps back a little and, in so doing, steps on the toes of another man already in the elevator. The man who just got stepped on angrily says, "Why don’t you look where you’re going? Are you blind or something?" Whereupon the other man turns around and humbly apologizes for being so clumsy. As he does, the angry man notices that the other man is indeed blind. The offended man, feeling ashamed and embarrassed, apologizes to the blind man: "Oh! I’m sorry, I ... I didn’t know."

This little story illustrates how we can choose our emotions and how those emotions can be turned on or off at will, when we choose to do so. It’s the same with love or fear. We can choose to be loving, or we can choose to be fearful.

Love doesn’t just happen. It’s the product of choice stemming from such things as service, sacrifice, understanding, desire, and so on. It’s one of the fruits of the Spirit. (Gal. 5:22.) Fruit comes from nurturing the spirit, similar to nurturing a seed. We can choose to love our neighbor as ourselves, or we can choose not to because of some preconceived fear. We can even choose to love someone romantically or, again, we can choose not to do so because of established fears, mistrust, doubts, and the like.

Even though there is a commandment to love all people, yet it sometimes becomes very difficult to do so. Two of the keys to loving others are service and sacrifice. Love develops because of the desire to bless someone else, which desire motivates service toward the individual. If we reword the second greatest commandment it might read, "Thou shalt serve thy neighbor as thyself—unselfishly and sacrificingly." As we labour to bless and prosper others in the Lord, we begin to develop a love for them.

There is probably no mortal love greater than the love of a mother for her child. Why is that? It’s because the mother lays her life on the line each time she gives birth to a child. It’s the willingness to sacrifice that helps establish that love. A father does not have the same love for a child as a mother, generally speaking, because he does not lay his life on the line as does the mother.

This very thing is pointed out in Lance Richardson’s book, The Message, a book about his near-death experience. Before he came back to mortality he was told by messengers on the other side how important service is, and how it is this principle that helps develop love in the society of heaven. One of the messengers said:

"The greatest principle in the creation of a society such as ours is Service.... Each person in our society is involved in service to others continually. It is the mode of Heaven. It is one of the great eternal principles that creates a heaven. Each seeks to serve God, our Father, through following His command of "Love One Another".... Service is the action form of loving one another When you truly love someone, you seek to serve them. Your concerns are for their happiness and welfare.... If you will go out and serve one another, will learn to love one another in a way you have never experienced before. If you will serve one another, you will love God and grow closer to Him. And if you will serve one another, your nation will be transformed into a haven of real peace and freedom." (The Message, pp. 117-118.)

The love that Jesus has for all is the greatest yet. This is so because He has offered us a greater sacrifice than anyone else ever could. Love comes through service and sacrifice, which helps develop understanding of one another. When Joshua said, "Choose you this day whom ye will serve"(Josh. 24:15), he was really saying, "Choose you this day whom ye will love." God grants us free will to make choices, and choosing to love is our greatest opportunity to feel God’s love in return.

Love Is Eternal
Since no more than one thought or emotion can abide in the heart and mind of man at the same time—when we love, we cannot hate, and when we hate, we cannot love. Therefore, since the mind can think of only one thing at a time, we need to use that device to crowd out inappropriate thoughts and nourish love. Once love is chosen, nourished and flowering, it can last forever. True love is a principle that lasts throughout all eternity. We are the offspring of a wise Heavenly Father who loves all of us, and He highly esteems each as having great value. To Him there is no worthless soul, or one soul that is worth less than another. However, He doesn’t always like some of the things we do. Because of this, we cannot live with Him in the life to come, unless we repent and turn our hearts and lives over to Him.

Many relationships come to a halt because someone does something the other person doesn’t like, not because love has ceased. Some divorces, for example, don’t happen because people fall out of love, they only fall out of like. The late Will Rogers once said, "I never met a man I didn’t like." Well, that may sound good and idealistic to some, but it also may not be very discriminating. As previously stated, God loves all of us, but He doesn’t like all of the things we do. Consequently, He will not like some of us in His kingdom.

Like is conditional, pure love is not. Love, however, can spring from a simple seed, and that seed can be what we first like. It is something that we like to see, like to hear, like to do, like to be, like to obtain, and so on. Upon nourishment and tender care, that seed, or that thing we like, can grow and blossom into loving fruit. Once the seed bears fruit, or like grows into love, the fruit of love can be delicious beyond all expectations.

There are many books being published today about people that have had what is called, the near-death experience. Although I have not read them all, I have yet to find one that did not give "love" as its central theme, and the sole reason for being here in mortality. Love is the constant principle that spans eternities. Considering this, there is no greater attribute to nourish than love, particularly love for God, the Father, and His son, Jesus the Christ.

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