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Thread: Gratitude vs. Obligation

  1. #1
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    Default Gratitude vs. Obligation

    I had asked a similar question earlier but I am still not getting it.

    I am trying to understand our proper motivation for loving God. And in that regard I am trying to understand the difference between loving Him out of gratitude for His love for us vs. loving Him because we are obligated to.

    Are those two reason opposite of each other meaning that we love Him for one reason or the other?

    Or do we love Him for both reasons at the same time?

    Then with regards to loving Him out of obligation I get confused about this reason because it seems like legalism. Any thoughts on that?




  2. #2

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    Obligation carries the connotation of "owe" and "duty"

    Some references:

    Romans 15

    25Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the saints there. 26For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. 27They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews' spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings. 28So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this fruit, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way. 29I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ.

    Romans 4

    1What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? 2If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast aboutóbut not before God. 3What does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."[a] 4Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation.
    Romans 8

    12Therefore, brothers, we have an obligationóbut it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.[g] And by him we cry, "Abba,[h] Father." 16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. 17Now if we are children, then we are heirsóheirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
    Luke 17

    7"Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, 'Come along now and sit down to eat'? 8Would he not rather say, 'Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink'? 9Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? 10So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.' "
    Gratitude carries the connotation of "love", and in some sense agreement with what is being done/grateful for...we can do both. However doing things out of gratitude, does not carry the 'baggage' of duty, imo. Gratitude goes beyond what is required. Whereas duty does specifically what is required (not meaning we cannot go beyond what is required from duty, we would do that from a sense of gratitude) Now, I'm confused.
    Last edited by HeIsEnough; April 23rd, 2008 at 10:35 AM.
    Don't panic! Just be Rapture Ready.

    Joel 3:2

    I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will put them on trial for what they did to my inheritance, my people Israel, because they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HeIsEnough View Post
    Now, I'm confused.

    i tried to answer this a few minutes agfer the question was posted, i deleted my attempt before posting cause i managed to confuse myself from here to next tuesday. its one of those things i understand in my heart and mind, but just can't explain.

    all i can say is that God did it all for us, if we recognise that, we should feel obliged to give Him credit for what He has done. If we do not recognise it, we likely are not saved and therefore will feel no obligation.
    How could one recognise the need for a solution and accept the solution without feeling an obligation to the one the solution was provided by?

    i don't really see gratitude as a choice, but as the natural result of understanding an obligation due to Him who saved us.


    i'm still not sure i said that the way i want.....

  4. #4

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    I think one aspect is that a good tree produces good fruit, and a bad does what it does. A good tree will produce gratitude, while a bad will not. A bad tree can produce 'duty', I believe, in terms of works. Perhaps that is the main dividing point, gratitude stems from the heart and does actions. Obligation is doing what is required, even if the heart is not in it.
    Don't panic! Just be Rapture Ready.

    Joel 3:2

    I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will put them on trial for what they did to my inheritance, my people Israel, because they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land.

  5. #5
    sue Guest

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    I think you could try to explain our love for God in a way that we love our spouses, children, or parants. we don't love them out of gratitude, rather we love them for who they are. We should love God for who he is as well as being grateful for what he has done.
    1 John 4:19-21 says"We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God, yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, who he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God MUST love his brother."

    This is the key in my view. Love of God is more than a feeling, it is a demonstration of our love for others. It is putting our faith in action. Our love for others is not a reccomendation, it's a command (Luke 10:27)
    By loving others (as hard as that is sometimes,) demonstrates our love for God.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike View Post
    I am trying to understand our proper motivation for loving God.
    This is kind of an odd question to me. Talking about love and motivation... This is a question that demands a personal answer. If one Loves God, how important is it to try to pick apart our "motivation" for that love? And, is there only one motivation?

    And in that regard I am trying to understand the difference between loving Him out of gratitude for His love for us vs. loving Him because we are obligated to.
    Motivation: something that motivates; inducement; incentive.

    Gratitude: the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful

    Obligated: morally or legally bound; obliged; constrained. Also: necessary; essential.

    Are those two reason opposite of each other meaning that we love Him for one reason or the other?
    Ask yourself this question, and I think you'd have an answer: "Why do I love God?"

    1 John 4:19 We love him, because he first loved us

    How do we know God loves us? 1 John 3:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

    So, I love God because He is a good and righteous, a just and holy, a merciful and jealous God who sent His Son to live, be crucified, and raised to life for me, and not just me!! I'm able to love Him because He first loved me, and I do feel a great debt of gratitude toward Him that I could never repay. So, I'd say gratitude is part of my motivation, or rather one of the reasons for loving God, but not all of it. I don't think obligation is part of my motivation, but I think it is necessary to love God (but that does not produce, or motivate love in me).

    Thanks to sweeetlilgurlie on Narniaweb for the sig

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    HeIsEnough, IceBear, Sue, Kliska thank you for your responses. This discussion helps.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kliska View Post
    This is kind of an odd question to me. Talking about love and motivation... This is a question that demands a personal answer. If one Loves God, how important is it to try to pick apart our "motivation" for that love?
    I think you are right, maybe it does require a personal answer, so let me tell you why I asked.

    Early in my Christian walk I was very legalistic having come from a Catholic upbringing, I had been taught that good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell.

    So after I got saved and even now sometimes it is so easy to slip back into that mold and get discourage. It is hard not to think that God is pleased with me if I do something good, or to think of Him as displeased when I trip and fall. It is hard to remember that in Christ the Father sees me with the righteousness of Christ.

    So because of that I try to focus on His love for me and rejoice in it at all times so that my heart will respond with gratitude.

    But then I come to a verses and hear preachers talking about the need for us to serve God in order to make sure that we are saved. Making the point that lost people do not repent of sin. So you should repent of sin to make sure you are saved. But trying to serve God like that seems like serving Him out of obligation and legalism. And makes it hard to grow in my level of gratitude for Him.




  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike View Post
    Making the point that lost people do not repent of sin. So you should repent of sin to make sure you are saved. But trying to serve God like that seems like serving Him out of obligation and legalism. And makes it hard to grow in my level of gratitude for Him.
    I had a feeling this is where you were going, and I have noticed the same thing. It is why I like to go to the tree and its fruit analogy, and to remind myself that all men can perform 'duty' in a sense, but not all are thankful and grateful. This to me is an evidence of the Spirit in your life. I don't think we as humans can erase the duty-legalism while we remain in the flesh. Attempts to completely throw it off can lead to presumption and 'losing our edge', so to speak. We can offset it by just resting in Him, aware of His mercies and patience, and being a good tree, as He has regenerated within us, and feeding it with the only food available, the scriptures.
    Don't panic! Just be Rapture Ready.

    Joel 3:2

    I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will put them on trial for what they did to my inheritance, my people Israel, because they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by HeIsEnough View Post
    I had a feeling this is where you were going, and I have noticed the same thing. It is why I like to go to the tree and its fruit analogy, and to remind myself that all men can perform 'duty' in a sense, but not all are thankful and grateful. This to me is an evidence of the Spirit in your life. I don't think we as humans can erase the duty-legalism while we remain in the flesh. Attempts to completely throw it off can lead to presumption and 'losing our edge', so to speak. We can offset it by just resting in Him, aware of His mercies and patience, and being a good tree, as He has regenerated within us, and feeding it with the only food available, the scriptures.
    Good answer, thanks




  10. #10
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    I agree that is a good answer. Something that helps me a bit, is realizing that one of His very names is Jehovah Tsidkenu: The LORD our Righteousness. And, sometimes we need to tune out the voices of men, and as HeIsEnough says, turn to scriptures more. Also, turning to those verses describing God's love for us often helps as well, it focuses us on His Son, and that's where the focus always deserves to be, and in Christ is where God's love is clearly manifested for us.

    Thanks to sweeetlilgurlie on Narniaweb for the sig

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