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A New Incentive

If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
–John 14:15

When I was twenty-two years old, my predecessor, Dr. W. A. Criswell, invited me to be the youth pastor here at First Baptist Dallas. I was so excited about the idea of working alongside my hero. Some of the youth leaders were skeptical, so Dr. Criswell met with them one night while I stood outside the door. They said, “He is so young, and he doesn’t have any experience.” That was absolutely true. But Dr. Criswell said, “If you don’t want him, that’s fine. I will hire him as my associate to run this entire church.” All of a sudden, they changed their tune. Dr. Criswell walked out, put his hand on my shoulder, and said, “Son, it’s all yours. Just don’t let me down.”

And I worked as hard as I could to please him–not just because I was scared to death of him, but also out of a desire to please the one who had taken a chance on me. After seven years, I went on to pastor my own church, but even then, I still had a desire to please Dr. Criswell. When he was about to die, and I was getting dressed to go visit with him a final time, I instinctively chose a red tie. That was his favorite color, and I wanted him to like my tie. Why did I care that much about what he thought? I wanted to please him because he had done so much for me.

It is the same way in our relationship with God. Because of God’s amazing grace, we have a new incentive for obeying Him. No longer do we obey God only out of fear or duty, but also out of a desire to please the one who has done so much for us.

Now, our duty to obey God is a legitimate motive for serving Him. Jesus talked about this in Luke 17:9-10. He said, “[The master] does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he? So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.’” You do not get a trophy for doing what you are supposed to do. God does not fall down and say, “Oh, thank you so much for saying no to sin!” That is what slaves do–they obey the master.

But there is an additional incentive we have to obey God: a genuine desire to please the one who has done so much for us. Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” Yes, we obey God because we have a duty to do so. But we also obey God because of what He has done for us. Our duty to obey God and our desire to please God intersect at the cross of Jesus Christ. We are not our own; we have been bought with a price. That is why we obey God as recipients of grace.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Laying Down The Law Without Giving Up Grace” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2020.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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