Yesterday morning on Sportscenter, there was an interview with Lebron James after he carried the Cleveland Cavaliers on his back to a game 3 victory and a 2-1 series lead. He was asked a question about whether playing against the leave MVP, Steph Curry, was added motivation for him. Lebron said that his goal every time he steps on the basketball court is to the be MVP for his team, which in his mind means making the players around him better, and while it did sting to come in third in this year’s MVP voting, he didn’t need the added motivation because he’s got enough motivation from within. It was a good interview, and I’m not apt to say that because, well
Lebron’s words come back to mind for me, however, as I read the lesson from 2 Corinthians for Sunday, noting Paul’s words about motivation. “The love of Christ urges us on…” is how the NRSV puts it, which is a fairly odd translation in the tradition. Perhaps the translators stumbled upon a previously unknown Greek idiom, but more often, the Greek is translated as “The love of Christ controls us…” (RSV) or “The love of Christ compels us…” (NIV). My particular favorite, the Contemporary English Version (CEV) translates it as “We are ruled by Christ’s love for us.”
I find this particularly helpful as I think about what motivates my actions. In those moments when I fail to live into God’s dream for his Kingdom, it is because I’m ruled by my love for myself, my comfort, and my control. In those moments when my eyes are fixed upon the dram of God, it is by God’s grace that I’m able to be ruled by Christ’s love for me, which spills out in love for my neighbor.
Sin, it would seem, is a failure to be ruled by the love of God. Sin comes from being ruled by anything else. Sin comes when our motivations aren’t the kingdom of God, but the devices and desires of our own hearts. As I kneel to confess my sins at noon today, I’ll spend an extra moment pondering my motivations, what or who rules my heart, and pray that it might be the love of Christ alone that urges me on.