I was substituting for the Art Teacher one day at a local elementary school. I enjoy art and I love the students at that school, so it is always a joy to go into their classrooms. However, on this particular day there were two kids who knew the regular teacher was missing. They decided they were going to take full advantage of the situation. First of all, the art projects which the two students made looked more like an explosion at a Crayola factory than a well-honed presentation by a 5th grader. Their pictures were to be creative works of art; not a quick piece of chaos. It was obvious that these two young “Picassos” were doing the bare minimum, just to get through the class. They knew what the assignment required, and they proceeded to do as little as possible with no attention to detail.
ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD
Sitting at the same table was a young girl who created a beautiful piece of art. As I stood over her admiring her work, she said she wanted to impress her mom. She wanted to give it to her for Mother’s Day. And that made all the difference in the world, between doing something because you should do it and doing something because you lovingly want to do it!
DO YOU THINK JESUS PRAYED BECAUSE HE SHOULD PRAY OR BECAUSE HE WANTED TO PRAY?
Do you think Jesus prayed because He should pray or because He wanted to pray? Jesus prayed when He faced insurmountable problems. When He went out to the Mount of Olives and His disciples followed Him, “He told them, ‘Pray that you will not fall into temptation.’ Then Jesus went to another spot, knelt down, and prayed” (Luke 22:39-44) Do you think He prayed simply because He was supposed to, or because He wanted to? It tells us in Mark 1:35: “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed.” Do you think Jesus just happened to be up early that morning and so He decided He would spend some time in prayer? No, no, no! He got up early because He wanted to pray. He recognized the fact that He could not do this ministry without a direct connection with His Father. This same connection, through prayer, is to be the basis for our own loyalty, love, and desire to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ.
WHY DID YOU HAVE DEVOTIONS? WHY DID YOU GO TO THAT SERVICE?
This applies to all areas of ministry, and I am sad to say it even applies to the pastor’s job. How many times have I done things because I should (because I am a pastor after all….) and not because I love God? Is it because I love God so much that I want to see God receiving the glory? This truth should apply to every area of our lives. Why did you get up early to have your devotions? Because you really wanted to or because you thought you should? Why did you go to that service? Because you thought you should or because you wanted to worship your Savior?
OTHERWISE, ALL GROWTH WILL BE SHORT-LIVED
Now, don’t misunderstand me, there are times when we do things because we know we should. I get it. But we will only substantially grow in our devotional life, life of service or even life as a parent, if we intentionally base it on our deep love of God. Otherwise, all growth will be short lived. The standard we set for ourselves will remain below what God has for us. So why did Jesus want to pray? Because He knew that dependency on the Father drew Him closer and closer the Father every day. If you want to get closer to the Father, then the example of Jesus is the way to go. And if you don’t believe me, I can show you some Picassos that may change your mind!