In a training class, I was recently taught that there are three basic motivations: compliance, identification, and internalization. As I learned more about them, it made me realize that many people approach Christian living using one of these three motivating factors. When I explain them, you will realize where you’ve been and where you fall now in these with your approach to living like Jesus. I’ll include the Parable of the Sower, from Matthew 13, to show the end result of each of these.
The first one, compliance, is where many people initially fall. The motivation is “Do it, or else!” There’s a constant threat living over you that if you don’t do it right, you’re done for. As long as you’re at church or church people, you live the way you should. When you’re away, you go back to how you want to live. Living like this is like the seeds that fell on the footpath. The birds came and ate them up. Trying to live a double life ends in failure. No one wants to try to live like Jesus if there’s a constant threat being held against them.
The second one, identification, is where you see someone else’s life, you identify with the end result, and you want to be like them to get their blessings. You’ll be motivated to do some things like join a small group, go to church on Wednesday, or even give your tithe, but what you’re missing is how to live that way consistently. To me, this is like the seed that fell in shallow soil. They sprout up quickly, but can easily wilt under the hot soon because they lack deep roots.
The third one, internalization, is where you take to heart what you hear and do whatever it takes so that the changes become who you are. This is the only one that produces long lasting change because it’s a change in your heart and mind. It’s like the seeds that fell on fertile soil. It will grow and reproduce thirty, sixty, and hundred times what was planted.
Your desire to follow Jesus shouldn’t be because you are afraid to go to hell. That will only last so long. It also shouldn’t be because you want the same blessings someone else has. When they don’t come quickly, you’ll give up. Your desire to follow Jesus should come because you met Him, want a relationship with Him, and will follow Him because of your love for Him. When you do that, your mind changes and so does your life. It’s what’s described in Romans 12:2, “Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (NLT). When you internalize what Jesus did for you, your life will reflect it in your living.