“I can’t go on like this!” This sentiment may be our thought when the cross becomes so very heavy to bear. The mom, who has so much to do and with children demanding much of her time and energy, can reach a breaking point. A husband and wife can feel frustrated with each other when expected changes do not happen. At such times, people may be tempted to just quit the job, leave the church, give up on the family, and stop caring about other people in their lives and in their vocations.
Should we confess that loving zeal for others is often not on the front burner of our conscience? We are very apt, due to our sinful nature, to complain, be sluggish, and be—well—unmotivated. And we all would like to be more loving, caring, and less self-centered in our vocations. How do we do that? What can motivate us to serve others with the love of God?
Listen to the Word, to the voice of God speaking to you today of His eternal love for you. You can know it and believe it. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Jesus has declared you forgiven through His blood. You are decreed and certified to be clean and righteous in the name of Him who was dead but now is alive. Jesus says this to you so you can hear and also believe. He wants you to have confidence today in the love of the Holy triune God. This Good News is the divine power that motivates, energizes, renews, and strengthens our faith.
In the Holy Sacraments, Jesus motivates us to serve others in love by His love: According to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior (Titus 3:5). Connected with God’s love in Baptism, you are His child, who has this Christian motivation from the Word and Sacraments to show forth Christ’s love.
In the Lord’s Supper, Jesus gives you His body and blood in the bread and wine for the remission of your sins. You have perfect salvation in Christ. Now you have boldness, energy, zeal, freedom, and power to love others. St. Paul states, “Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:17–18). Now you are made to be brave and confident, to be more loving, patient, and kind. That’s divine motivation to be bold and sure, to even say to someone, “I love you” and “Jesus loves you.”
This love of God in Christ is given to us in Word and Sacrament and is that divine power that motivates us even when it is hard to go on. It empowers us to grow in His love—trusting our Savior even in times of darkness, praying when it is hard, hearing His Word when it may be easier not to, honoring our parents when they are unreasonable, helping others out when we don’t have time and we are tired, loving and cherishing our spouse when they are not so lovable but downright difficult, being honest when it will cost us dearly, speaking not at all or defending others and speaking well of them when it would be so delicious to gossip and slander.
In Christ’s love, bestowed upon you in the Means of Grace (Word and Sacrament), you have the motivation to take up your cross daily for loving service in the vocations God has placed you.
Reverend Robert Harting
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church