“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30).
According to Jesus, acceptable worship of God only occurs when it is done with the proper spirit and in accordance with revealed truth (John 4:24). He is equally emphatic about your motivation for helping others, prayer, and fasting (Matthew 6:1-18). Doing the right thing for the wrong reason falls short of learning Christ and putting on the new man which was created according to God in true righteousness and holiness.
Nestled in this passage detailing the characteristics of the new lifestyle found in Christ, the apostle Paul zeroes in on the motives for your transformation from lying lips to truth speaking ones (v. 25), from unrighteous anger to righteous indignation (vv. 26-27), from stealing to laboring and sharing (v. 28), from corrupt speech to edifying words (v. 29). Your motivation is pure—you do not want to break God’s heart!
Small children often obey their parents because of their fear of chastisement. As they mature, their motivation may change into a desire for praise and/or reward. They have reached a mature motivation and relationship with their parents when their behavior is governed by a fear of grieving their parents’ loving hearts.
It is this level of maturity God seeks for His children. It is not the fear of punishment in hell nor the desire for blessing in heaven which is their greatest motivator. Rather, it is the fear which love generates—the fear of disappointment, of breaking His heart, of grieving His holy spirit.
Which is the strongest motivation for your obedience to God—fear of punishment, desire for blessing, or concern for grieving God’s tender, loving heart?