In Sunday School today, we had a lesson about obedience. We focused a lot of time on one paragraph in our manual, which said:
“Each of us should ask ourselves why we obey God’s commandments. Is it because we fear punishment? Is it because we desire the rewards for living a good life? Is it because we love God and Jesus Christ and want to serve Them?”
It’s obvious what the answer should be. But I was more interested in what the answer, for me, was.
I thought about myself and my motivations. I’ve always been obedient, and I never did have a time where I felt like I needed to rebel in a large way. I try–very hard, actually–to keep God’s commandments. But why do I do it?
I frankly told my class that a lot of times I think I obeyed for the reward, the promised blessings. Throughout the rest of the class I pondered that, and wondered how I could change that to obeying because I love God.
I mean, I do love God. But is that why I obey Him? I started thinking about each motivation to obey as a different step. Problem was, I could see how in some things I stand on more than one step at a time.
Then I started thinking about my mom.
I love my mom. Heck, pretty much everybody loves my mom. Still, I started thinking back to my childhood and how she would make me do chores. I loved her when I was a kid, but I hated to do my chores.
I only did them because I would get in trouble if I didn’t.
Hmm. Sound familiar?
Eventually, I got to where I would do them because it was easier than arguing. Besides, I knew that if there was anything I wanted to do, any special privilege I needed her permission for, she was a lot more likely to say yes when I had done what she’d asked without giving her grief.
(Digression: We used to always ask Mom what she wanted for her birthday and Mother’s Day and Christmas, and she would always say, “Happy kids.” I didn’t get that until I had kids of my own. Now I always ask for the same thing. “Just stop fighting for an entire day and it will be the best present ever!”)
Curiouser and curiouser.
Today, when I go to visit my mom, I look for things to do for her. I wash dishes, I sweep floors, I weed, I vacuum. I do it because I only see her twice a year and I’m not able to help her out as much as I’d like to. I do it because it gives me joy to make her life easier.
I do it because I love her.
That’s my challenge, then. To take something that is hard, that I perhaps don’t like doing, and figuring out how to love to do it because I love the person I’m doing it for. Possibly in this, practice really does make perfect.