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Are you motivated by Light or Heat?

I heard someone say that some people are motivated by heat instead of light.

Light can be seen as God’s revelation, meaning the countless ways that He seeks to influence us to take the right path.  It could be through His Word, or prayer, maybe even a vision or dream. Either way, light is like the kiss of the sun on your face in the dawn.

But then there is the heat. Heat is more like the blast of an unforgiving furnace.

Someone once said that “time makes more converts than reason”. That’s another way of saying some people are motivated by heat instead of light.

The heat are the consequences of our choices, the cliffs we step over, the furnace we are in because of how we are motivated - by heat instead of light.

There was a king in the Old Testament named Ahab. He had the “not so nice” distinction of being known as the most wicked king in Israel’s history. His nemesis, the prophet Elijah, after repeated rebukes, pronounced terrible judgment on him, leading Ahab to humble himself with fasting and prayer.  

1 Kings 21:27–28 (ESV)  “And when Ahab heard those words, he tore his clothes and put sackcloth on his flesh and fasted and lay in sackcloth and went about dejectedly”.

It is obvious that Ahab was motivated by heat not light. Why is this important? Because if you are motivated by cattle prods to serve God, you will need cattle prods to keep you going. But the book of Galatians tells us that “Faith works by love” (not judgment).

There are people who are used to “hard sermons”, tough rebukes, consequences that wake them up. etc.  The more beating, the better, because it makes them obey.  We can all agree that there is a place for tough messages, but may I again suggest the question: Are they being motivated by light or heat?

This is not an indictment on those who have been the bearers of a tough message. I have born enough of those to know this reality. It’s an indictment on those who are only motivated by a tough message.

Light will keep you, but the heat will not.  Paul wrote that the “love of Christ” (not judgment) “constrained him” to do the right thing.

Psalm 36:9 (NRSV)   “ For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light”.