On Monday of this week (May 4, 2015), John Piper posted this article on the Solid Joys app. It is worthy of careful consideration. Continue reading . . .
On Monday of this week (May 4, 2015), John Piper posted this article on the Solid Joys app. It is worthy of careful consideration.
Who has given a gift to God that he might be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. (Romans 11:35–36)
When it comes to obedience, gratitude is a dangerous motive. It tends to get expressed in debtor’s terms. For example, “Look how much God has done for you. Shouldn’t you, out of gratitude, do much for him? Or: “You owe God everything that you are and have. What have you done for him in return?”
I have at least three problems with this kind of motivation.
First, it is impossible to pay God back for all the grace he has given us. We can’t even begin to pay him back, because Romans 11:35–36 says, “Who has given a gift to God that he might be repaid? [Answer: Nobody!] For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever.” We can’t pay him back because he already owns all we have to give him.
Secondly, even if we succeeded in paying him back for all his grace to us, we would only succeed in turning grace into a business transaction. If we can pay him back it was not grace. If someone tries to show you a special favor of love by having you over for dinner, and you end the evening by saying that you will pay them back by having them over next week, you nullify their grace and turn it into a trade. God does not like to have his grace nullified. He likes to have it glorified (Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14).
Thirdly, focusing on gratitude as a motive for obedience tends to overlook the c