(Thanks to our dear friend, Pastor John Canning, for inspiration on this one.)
Legend tells the story of particularly miserable first half played by the Notre Dame football team many years ago. Coach Knute Rockne delayed entering the locker room during the break until just before the second half kickoff. He opened the door and stepped inside, but then paused and turned around to leave, apparently as if he were in the wrong place. “Oh excuse me, ladies,” he said as he left, “I thought this was the locker room of the Notre Dame football team!”
At the story goes, an enraged Fighting Irish team annihilated the opposing team in the second half. This brings to mind the issue of motivation. How do we encourage ourselves and others to live lives that truly honor the Lord Jesus Christ in thought, attitude, word and deed?
While working well with young men in an athletic endeavor, Rockne’s method surely does not apply to the living of a godly life. The love of God is our motivation. “Walk in love” (Ephesians 5:2). First, our Lord reveals His love to us, drawing us to Himself through the saving grace of the Lord Jesus. Then He deposits His love in us when we believing, bestowing the indwelling Holy Spirit within our heart. Finally, He works to reveal His love by us unto others (I John 4:19; Romans 5:5; I John 2:6).
No ridicule or belittling exists in this working of God in our hearts. He rather humbles us by rightly revealing our limitations – “Without Me, ye can do nothing” (John 15:5). He encourages us by promising His ongoing work within our hearts – “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). He warns us that such a work of love does not preclude firm discipline, as necessary – “Whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth” (Hebrews 12:6). He assures us of restoration when we fall – “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). And He promises an inviolability of relationship that will ultimately result in our being conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus – “I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
A strong sense of respect for us, as it were, permeates these ways of God regarding His motivating work in us. Our Lord humbles without humiliating because He bore our humiliation (Acts 8:33). Thus, His justifying work allows God to deal with us in a manner of solemn dignity and devotion to our ultimate conformity to His Son. Such understanding of our Father’s way will increase our respect for Him, our love for Him, and our motivation to honor Him by always playing our second half far better than the first.
“Though the LORD be high, yet hath He respect unto the lowly.”