At a high school graduation recently, one student was heard to make these remarks: "Yeah, I finally made it. It's a good thing, too. If I had blown it, my parents would have killed me!"
In contrast, during the ceremony one of the student speakers, a foreign exchange student declared through her tears, "I want to express my deepest appreciation to my parents for loving me and for giving me the opportunity to get an education in this great land. I want to do everything I can to show them how much I love them and to make them proud of me."
What a difference in motivation between these students. The first obviously lived in fear of his parents, while the second understood and appreciated what her parents had done for her.
The epitaph of Amaziah, a king of Israel, reads, "He did what was right in the sight of the Lord, but not with a loyal heart" (2 Chronicles 25:2, NKJ). Obedience involves attitude, not merely outward actions. What is your motivation when you obey Christ? Do you serve Christ out of fear and self-serving ambition? Or from a loyal heart because you understand and appreciate God's love and what He has done for you?
Read Acts 4:32-5:11. At one time, Jerusalem Christians held goods as common property. Each Christian put his funds into a common treasury, which then supplied the needs of the Christian community. What made them willing to give up personal possessions (verse 32)?
One writer has said that many today view the local church as if it were a restaurant where all kinds of people meet for a short time, sit down together in the same room, then part, not knowing or caring anything about each other.
What is your estimation of the fellowship in our churches today compared with the fellowship of the Jerusalem Christians? What kind of attitude did the early Christians display?
Do you think this is true in your church? What can you do to improve the fellowship in your church?
When Barnabas sold his land, which was probably valuable, and gave the money to the church, no doubt other Christians praised his devotion. How do you think Barnabas' action might have influenced Ananias and Sapphira?
What do you suppose motivated Ananias and Sapphira to sell their possessions and give money to the church? How did their motive differ from Barnabas' motive?
How can it be possible to study the Bible, share Christ with others, or attend Christian meetings, and yet be committing sin when you think you are pleasing God?
What did Christ say was wrong with the people of His day (Mark 7:6)?
Why is your heart attitude just as important to God as your outward action?
Each of us has a tendency to do things for the approval of our friends. When this desire becomes our sole motivation, our attitude is wrong. Think of a person you know who has a godly attitude toward giving.
How do his actions differ from those described in Matthew 6?
List some ways you can help keep your giving sincere.
Public prayer is not wrong in itself. when you pray aloud with others, to whom are you talking? How can you make your public prayers a testimony to how much you love God?
Read I Corinthians 13:1-3. In terms meaningful to you, paraphrase these three verses.
On the basis of this passage, what would you say is the relationship between love and sincere obedience? What action or activity in your life needs a change in motivation?
How do you expect that change to affect other people with whom you come in contact? How do you expect that change to affect your life?
Adapted fromThe 10 Basic Steps Toward Christian Maturity, by Bill Bright, co-founder of Campus Crusade for Christ. © Cru. All rights reserved.
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