When our twin sons played soccer for a season in their childhood, they were introduced to team sports. During their stint in junior soccer league, they learned about the game and got a good workout. A first place finish for their team capped an exciting play off. I appreciated how their two coaches accepted the players at their level of ability, yet motivated them to do their best.
Now that we are on “God’s team” through faith in Jesus Christ, what motivates us to be our best in this life? When one considers the amazing grace of God which saves and keeps His people, the question arises, “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” (Rom 6:1). The immediate and emphatic answer is absolutely not!
Let’s consider three basic motivations that inspire us to say “no” to sin patterns and “yes” to God’s good will for our life.
First, we are motivated to live for God because we are under His providential training. In other words, if the believer stubbornly disobeys, God will bring discipline into his life. The writer of Hebrews, quoting Proverbs, reminded his readers,
” ‘For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.’ If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?” (12:6,7,9; cf. 1 Cor 11:29-32).
We need a clear understanding of God’s discipline. Not all trials are due to correcting our disobedience; remember the book of Job. Chastening should be perceived as corrective, not punitive. As Bob George wrote,
“The sharp difference [between punishment and discipline] can be seen in both the attitude and the goal of the of the one doing it. The attitude behind punishment is anger and indignation, and its goal is justice; the attitude behind discipline is love, and its goal is the benefit and development of the person. A total contrast! And the crucial application to us is knowing that God, under the New Covenant, never deals with His children on the basis of punishment. All of the punishment of God for our sins was fully received by Christ on the cross.” 
As a joyful fellow believer said to me, “When I was a boy, I was given an ice cream cone when I pleased my parents. I now love to please my Heavenly Father, because I like getting His ‘ice cream cones’ [blessings].” But to our temporal outlook, spiritual blessings are not always as tasty as ice cream cones.
The second motivator for living for God as a believer is mentioned by the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:9,10:
“Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”
This evaluation will occur when Christ comes for His own. In heaven, believers will stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ and receive rewards for righteous and loving works, or loss of reward for unrighteous and vain works (See. 1 Cor 3:10-15). This judgment does not determine one’s destiny. Your destiny is determined by having salvation–having your name in the “book of life” (Phil. 4:3; Rev. 21:27).
Does it seem selfish to live a good life to be rewarded by God? Although obedience has intrinsic rewards in this life (Gal 6:7; Rom 12:2), future rewards are valued in the teaching of the Lord Jesus: “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly” (Matt. 6:6. See also verses 4,18). Self concern is not necessarily wrong; we naturally care about our own welfare (Eph. 5:29).
Perhaps our perspective about the motivational value of future rewards should correspond to the action of the 24 elders in the book of Revelation. “[They] fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne… “(Rev 4:10). Our ultimate goal is to glorify God, from whom all blessings flow!
Thirdly, the ultimate motivator for us as believers is loving gratitude to our gracious God.
“For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” (2 Cor 5:14,15).
If we love Christ, we will obey Him–for God’s glory and our good (John 14:15).
You can add to this list when you consider the wisdom and benefits of choosing God’s best for your life day by day. These motivations must have captured the heart of Joachim Neander who wrote, “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty”
stanza 2 declares:
Praise to the Lord,
Who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings,
Yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen
How thy desires all have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?
The Lord Jesus summed up the wisdom of choosing God’s best: “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them” (John 13:17).
 Classic Christianity, p.194 (original emphasis)
Copyright by John Woodward 1999, revised 2015. Permission is granted to reprint for noncommercial use if credit is given to the author and GraceNotebook.com. Biblical quotations are from The New King James Version (copyright by Thomas Nelson).
Our friend, Peggy Cox wrote a delightful collection of personal stories & devotional messages in her book, God Doesn’t Really Live in Colorado: One Woman’s Conversations with the Father. It is available on Kindle via Amazon.com