What motivates you? If you’re answer is, “That depends,” I think that’s a fair response. There are times when competition pushes us to try hard, sacrifice more, dig deeper and there are times when too much competition motivates us to quit. There are times when proving someone wrong is a driving force (“Don’t tell me ‘I can’t’”) and times when we’re defeated by their negativity (“He’s right. I can’t.”).
In Sunday’s readings we have a scene and an admonition that relate to motivation. Hannah is motivated to have a child (1 Samuel 1:4-20). The culture she lived in said a woman’s worth was closely connected to her ability to produce children. That motivated her. Hannah’s husband’s other wife had given him children. That motivated her. Her own desire to experience being a mother was surely a motivation. And those (and perhaps other) reasons motivated Hannah to passionately appeal to God and even to attempt to motivate God to respond. Desperation is a strong motivator.
So is faith. Hannah believed God could do something. The author of Hebrews did, too. Having done so much already, including offer his life as a sacrifice for all time, Jesus’ life motivates ours. If he loved us to the point of giving his life as the culmination of a life of service and mercy, we are to be motivated, even provoked, into reflecting his love, service, and mercy. As Hebrews puts it (after spending much of the sermon reflecting on Jesus), “Let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (verses 24-25 of Sunday’s reading: Hebrews 10:11-25).
Given all that, I’m motivated to meet with you on Sunday. I hope you are. Let’s make worship, study, and fellowship our weekly habit. Let’s make our daily habit finding ways to provoke one another to love and good deeds. Let’s not just hope our lives do that, but, motivated by our Lord, let’s give thought and attention and effort to making sure our lives do that. Then, however the situational details get worked out, the answer will be succinct: What motivates me? Jesus!