By Earl E. Robertson
There are many reasons, good and right, given in the Bible for one’s motivation to follow Christ. These good things may be accepted and properly used; however, on the other hand they are often abused. The abuse made of them does not mitigate either the authoritativeness or the scriptural demand upon man in them. It just means that the one who so abuses God’s means of saving people will have to give answer to God in judgment.
Some follow Christ because they want life. Prior to knowledge of and service to Christ the Bible says one is “alienated from the life of God” (Eph. 4:18). But Christ says, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). This life Paul lived; he said, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). John says this life is in his Son (1 John 5:11). So does Paul affirm the same thing (2 Tim. 1:1; 2:10). This life is both present and future (1 Tim. 4:8).
Others follow because of the joy in doing right. When Philip had preached the gospel in Samaria, and the people favorably responded, Luke said, “there was great joy in that city” (Acts 8:8). Yes, there is joy in giving up error of every description to embrace all truth that one may live acceptably before God. When one fails to so live he will, like David, know what loss he has sustained. David said after he sinned, “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation” (Psa. 51:12). To the Christians scattered and suffering Peter writes about their “trial of faith” saying, “though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8). He further writes, “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:13).
Yet, others follow “. . . because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled” (John 6:26). What a mercenary reason! Jesus both saw this and told them about it. It is doubtful that such frankness and forthrightness changed them. One’s attitude and motivation must be right toward Christ and truth for one to properly follow the Lord. Some make a display today as though they are following Christ for the right reasons, but such service is only as long as they are on the receiving end. Take away foodstuffs, attention (even that demanded of a baby), benevolence, a job and-presto! they are gone some place else. They are looking for the “loaves and fishes,” not for opportunities to follow Christ.
Like one of old who affirmed that he would “follow thee whithersoever thou goest,” many today make this promise rashly. All should truly count the cost, know the reason, and then follow all the way he leads. When elders, preachers, and all saints have scriptural reasons to follow Christ the church is then the kind of church Jesus wants; but when the reasons are hidden, the motivation ulterior, that church will slowly die. Satisfying selfish motives often times prevents the development of other song leaders, additional elders, more preachers, etc. The practical aspect in following Christ will. easily and quickly be seen, so it behooves us to so follow him that others will be influenced to greater service too.
Truth Magazine XXI: 25, p. 386
June 23, 1977