We are all motivated by two things: pain and pleasure. We are motivated toward pleasure; we are motivated to avoid pain. Look carefully at this familiar passage. See what it teaches us about pain avoidance:
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. John 15:1–6 (NIV2011)
If you don’t abide in Christ you find pain. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers. Ouch.
Some people think living for God is painful, and it is. So is living without God.
If you do abide in Christ you find pain. Every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be more fruitful. In this world you will have trouble. We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God. The Father disciplines those He loves. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.
There is something about pain. There is something about hardship. There is something about trouble. Pain tenderizes the heart. Pain drives us to our knees. Pain calls us to cry out to God. Not just pray—cry out to God. Only people in pain do that.
If you teach, make one of your primary teaching aims that of preparing people for the pain that is coming their way. Tell them often of the storm that looms. Don’t let the storm surprise them. Tell them winter is coming. Tell them that God disciplines those He loves.
I have just released a series of 13 lessons that go in depth into each of these principles. (One introductory lesson, and one lesson on each of the 12 principles.) If you are a member of Good Questions Lesson Subscription Service, you already have access to these lessons. If not, they will be available on Amazon soon.
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