Motivation Through Revelation, Not Condemnation
We should motivate people through vision, a revelation of God, and the power of God; rather than by guilt, law or condemnation.
Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:1-10 (Also Proverbs 29:18; Matthew 4:23-25; John 14:8-12)
If you were the pastor, what would say to a church whose members were arguing among themselves; dividing from each other based on preferred preachers; gloating over their open-mindedness toward incest within the church; getting drunk at communion; putting each other down either because they had or didn’t have certain spiritual gifts; and many other perplexing issues? Would you be prone to expose, condemn and shame them? Do you know what their pastor did? Paul began his letter to the Corinthian Christians calling them “the church… saints in God;” blessing them with “grace and peace” and “thanking God for them;” reminding them how “enriched they are with every spiritual gift” in Christ Jesus; and telling them that God will keep them strong to the end” (1 Corinthians 1:1-10)! Only after these affirmations does he begin his appeal for harmony and words of needed correction! Why?
First of all, that’s the way God does it! Remember the Prodigal’s Father? When the son returned there was no condemnation, but the Father granted him a greater revelation of who he, the loving father was, and who he was as his son (ring, robe and shoes)!
Secondly, Paul knew that it was vision, revelation and God’s power through Christ is what truly motivates people toward transformation; not guilt, law or condemnation! Paul had seen the ineffectiveness of the Pharisees, who wanted to see their nation restored to righteousness through keeping the law and commandments. They were committed to change, but their method for instituting this change was by using the Old Testament law to shame and condemn others who didn’t interpret things their way or act as they taught. Their high standards gave them a facade of esteem, but most people did not follow them or change. Can you imagine their surprise, opposition, and then outrage when Jesus came on the scene with methods diametrically opposite of theirs? Instead of guilt, law and condemnation he offered the people forgiveness, love and acceptance. Jesus gave them hope by envisioning of a new kind of kingdom and a new covenant. The reality that this was not just mere talk was demonstrated through miracles and acts of power. And to the Pharisees’ vexation, it worked– the people swarmed to Jesus!
It’s bad enough that the Pharisees didn’t get it, but many churches today seems to make the same mistake and look to the same methodology of the Pharisees. Instead of helping the people see what profound effect God’s rule could have today and their unique part in that vision, people are posed to choose narrowly defined belief systems to which they are held to by guilt or fear of condemnation. Instead of people being drawn and convinced by the truth of the gospel and verifying encounters with God (including manifestations of healing and power in their midst), they are cajoled to attend by faithfulness or busy activity. Christian parents are perplexed that their rules and words of constant correction are not producing children distinctive from the world– almost the opposite. Could it be they need encounters with a supernatural God that excites them with personal vision– stirred at the prospect of carrying and releasing the power of God into their world? Do we, as parents, yet possess that part of an inheritance to release to them?
When Paul came into Philippi to start a church, he started by witnessing to Lydia and others, with some effect. But something happened that accelerated the growth of the new church in that city. While thrown in jail, instead of cursing or complaining like other prisoners, Paul and Silas began to sing praises until God came down and shook that cell, opened the doors and released the shackles. Observing all of this, the jailer didn’t hesitate to commit not only his life to the Lord, but his whole family! A church started, thrived, and became one of Paul’s most loved and joyful.
What if every person in church excitedly came because of an experiential knowledge of a powerful, loving God whom they’d seen perform miraculous signs and wonders on a regular basis? Do you think they’d have a higher level of commitment to such a church? Do you think their theology might be more solid, real and personal than religious scholars who’d worked it out in an ivory tower among religious academia? You can count on it!
- To which do you think you would be more responsive: law, guilt and condemnation or vision, revelation and power?
- Can you think of a scenario in church life where these two distinctive approaches could be compared and applied? How about a scenario in the home
- Have you been able to see areas where this value needs to be applied in your personal experience? How will you activate it?
Declaration: As you pray today, make the following declaration…
My Father leads me with grace. I will not focus on the past or my failures. I will look to God’s future for me, anticipating both encounters with God’s miraculous power and impartations from me of that power. I reject legalism, condemnation and shame as a method toward others. I choose to look for God’s light in every person and every situation– by the revelation of the Holy Spirit.