Why do we do what we do?

Some things we do just because we do – they sort of happen around us and we just go along with the flow. Some we do automatically, out of habit, and sometimes we don’t even know we are doing them. Sometimes that habit can be so compulsive that we cannot stop ourselves from doing it – we have lost control, and the drift into addiction can follow. We do some things out of our emotions – we laugh because we are happy, cry because we are sad, we lash out in anger, scream with fear.

Some of the things we do affect our emotions. If it is something that we have to do but don’t want to do it can make us resentful, angry, despondent. If it is something we like to do, we can experience joy, excitement. Think of your job – do you enjoy it, is there too much pressure, is it interesting, boring?

What about the things you should do and the things you shouldn’t do? What is the driving force in the decision-making process there? None of us is so selfish or self-assured that we just do what we want, when we want, to whom we want. There is always a consequence of our actions, and we will always consider that consequence before we act.  We might make the wrong decision, but we still decide. Sometimes we will not do something because of our fear of those consequences.

Praise the Lord!
How joyful are those who fear the Lord and delight in obeying his commands.
(Psalm 112:1, NLT)

In my post Fear is the Key I referred to fearing God. In the verse above I see the words fear and delight in the same sentence!

Are we told to obey God out of fear? If we obey God out of fear, then we are only being obedient out of the fear of retribution, out of the fear of punishment. That is no way to live! Neither is it the way to make the right decision and do the right thing, the right way, for the right reasons. I am told to love my neighbour, but I cannot do that if I am always looking behind me to see if punishment for failure is coming. No one can love out of fear – you can only love from the inside out. But there is even more to it than that! If I am fearful of punishment, where is my understanding of the Gospel? Where is my understanding of what Christ did for me on the cross?

Doing something you like to do is so much easier than doing something you have to do, so much easier than something you don’t want to do. Doing something you actually delight in is easiest of all. Speak to any heroin addict and he will tell you that the first hit he had from the drug was so wonderful that he wanted to do it again. I am not equating obeying God with heroin, but if we find delight in obeying him then we will want to do it again, and again, and again.

So don’t obey God out of fear, or superstition, or even out of a sense of duty! Obey him because you delight in his commands! Enjoy what you do!

two cartoon characters rejoicing with love hearts in their hands