The Three Bs - 3rd B: Behave

This is the third of our series of articles for the Children's Corner of Grace News on the theme of 'Believe, Belong, Behave'. In this third instalment, Rachel Wong challenges our children (and us) to reflect on what motivates us to behave.

Are you tired of having people constantly tell you to behave yourself? Perhaps you are already very well-behaved so you never need to hear these dispiriting words, but let’s suppose that you do hear parents and teachers say this from time to time. What motivates you to ‘behave’, when told to do so? 

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Have you heard of the ‘carrot or stick’ approach? To understand this you have to imagine that you were a donkey. Now I am reliably informed that donkeys love carrots, so if you were a donkey and someone told you to carry a heavy load to the next farm and promised you a bag of carrots at the end of it, would that make you gallop next door to get your reward? Or what if you were told that if you didn’t carry the load you would be beaten with a stick? Would you gallop next door just as fast? Both the carrot and the stick make the donkey do what he’s told, either for a reward, or in order to avoid punishment. 

What about you? If your teacher says, “If you don’t talk I will give you a doughnut”, would you continue chatting to your friend? How about if your teacher says, “If you talk I will give you extra homework”? I’m sure you would keep quiet pretty fast!  

But really, none of these are good reasons to do the right thing. We shouldn’t need a carrot or a stick, or a doughnut or more homework to make us want to do the right thing. What does the Bible say about this? In John 14:15 we read that Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” So that’s all we need: simply LOVE. We love because God first loved us and gave us His Son Jesus Christ who came and paid the price for our sins (1 John 4:10, 19).  

We don’t do the right things because we think that God will reward us if we do, or punish us if we don’t: we do the right things just because we love God and want to make Him happy. So we don’t need anything from outside ourselves to make us behave and obey God – it is the Holy Spirit inside us who, through the word of God, reminds us how Jesus lived His life and helps us to be like Him, BECAUSE WE LOVE HIM.  

So don’t be like the donkey! God’s people say “No” to carrots and sticks, and “Yes” to obeying Him with hearts of love. Amen!

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Read the first article on 'Believe' and the second article on 'Behave'.