May 18, 2012
"Carrot motivation"; dangling a carrot from a stick in front of a donkey as a means of motivating it to keep moving forward. This expression has come to refer to something good being offered -- dangled in front of us -- to motivate us to do something. Generally people respond well to that kind of motivation because our focus is generally on getting some personal benefit for the things we do. Even the promises God holds out to us should be good motivation for living to please Him.
Another kind of motivation is call "Carrot and Stick". This is when someone offers a desirable incentive to do something while also offering a threat of punishment if it is not done. Now, God has offered us many PROMISES. However, He has also provided many WARNINGS against disobedience while still holding out the opportunity for hope. The problem with some is they love to focus on the PROMISES of God while ignoring the WARNINGS.
As Israel was being prepared for entrance into the promised land, there were both BLESSINGS and WARNINGS made clear. Reading through Deuteronomy 28:1-14, the provision God promised Israel should have been great motivation for steadfast obedience. However, there were some "if's" associated with those BLESSINGS. They were contingent on being faithful to God. That list of blessings was followed by a list of CURSES ( Deuteronomy 28:15-68) for unfaithfulness. Still, the hope remained that God would respond with forgiveness when repentance was made. ( Deuteronomy 30)
In God's desire to bless us with the expectation of our obedience to His Will, there is a sense in which we have been offered "a carrot and a stick." He offers, but the response is up to us. As Paul used the analogy of the olive tree ( Romans 11:11-24), he noted unbelieving Jews being branches cut off while believing Gentiles being wild olive branches grafted in.
Paul therefore noted where the awareness needed to rest as he wrote. . .
"(22) NOTE THEN THE KINDNESS AND THE SEVERITY OF GOD: severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. (23) And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again." ( Romans 11:22-23 ESV)
There is the full picture. In spite of being blessed to be grafted in, unbelief could cause those wild branches to be removed. However, there remained hope for the natural branches to be grafted back in if they did not persist in unbelief.
KINDNESS and SEVERITY. BLESSINGS and CURSES. PROMISES and WARNINGS. We will do well to pay attention to all that God has declared. Though we may not always be motivated by the same things, may our response to God be one of faithfulness, knowing He will always be faithful. "Sticking" to the "Carrots" will be better for our health; physically and spiritually.
Have a great day HOLDING TO THE HOPE GOD HOLDS OUT TO US!
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