And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you? He requires only that you fear the LORD your God, and live in a way that pleases him, and love him and serve him with all your heart and soul. And you must always obey the Lord's commands and decrees . . . for your own good.There is a difference, I think, between trying to please my father and merely trying not to disappoint him. I grew up with a great dad. He invested his time in his family. While other dads were bowling or going to the Lion's Club, my dad was with us. Other dads drank the weekends away. My dad worked at the factory in Ft. Wayne, and then came home to farm - an activity which he did with me at his side.Deuteronomy 10:12-13 (NLT)
He was also incredibly encouraging to me. Countless times dad told me he was proud of me. He rebuked me from time to time, yet he was never insulting or sarcastic. He disciplined me, but rarely ever raised his hand - even though he should have at times, perhaps.
I grew up not wanting to disappoint him.
Once, right after Christmas break, I was walking out of school on my way to the school bus. I had received a new fountain pen in my Christmas stocking. A girl in my class, who was generally disliked only for having had the misfortune of being born with a cleft palate, was walking ahead of me wearing a brand new white coat that she had received that Christmas. I flicked my fountain pen at her coat leaving a speckled trail of blue ink from hem to collar. Funny at the time? Sure. But not so much at 10 P.M. that night. I couldn't sleep until I told my dad what I had done. He made me call the girl's mother and make it right. Why the pains of a guilty conscience? Not as much over what I had done to the girl and her coat, but more because I didn't want to disappoint my dad.
There is some merit to approaching God that way. Certainly I don't want to disappoint Papa. Nevertheless, the obedience that he desires goes well beyond the negative reinforcement of wanting to avoid angering or even disappointing God. God wants us to please Him.
My friend, Greg Stauffer, once told me that he pictures his relationship with God this way: God in Heaven looks down on his child Greg, and every so often He says, "Look at Greg! Isn't that just the cutest thing he's doing?" Or, "Look at Greg, I am so proud of the way he handled that situation!" "Check out Greg mucking out the horse stalls. It cracks me up when he wrinkles up his nose at the smell!"
That is pleasing Papa.
No, I do not want to disappoint God. But I'm finding that, if not disappointing Him is my only motivation, it is often insufficient to deter me from the sin that I so frequently set my heart on committing. There must be, for me at least, some further motivation.
I think I am learning that the motivation is to please Him as well.