If you are looking for the most efficient, effective way to change behavior, then fear is probably the weapon of choice. But if you are looking to change behavior outside of the use of fear, then you have to be prepared for failure after failure. You have to be ready for the one that is in need of the changing to sin, and to sin a lot. In fact, they will sin just because there isn’t punishment for what they are doing. They will run that line of reasoning out as far as it can go, like a hooked fish caught by a skilled fisherman, and they will never come to the end of how far that line will let them run. They are free to bed with pigs if they so desire. They are free to wear themselves out. The fisherman isn’t concerned because He knows that ultimately, despite what they are interested in for the moment, He has hooked them and they will be drawn back to Him at some point.
But then one day it occurs to us that its for the very reason because there is no punishment for what we are doing that we don’t want to do it anymore. That surely, someone that would refrain from anger in the midst of our blatant disregard for their heart and how our actions hurt them, is worthy of our trust. That their kindness makes us stand in awe and wonder at how incredibly patient they are with us. That they keep opening themselves up to us over and over again, even after we have done the very thing that we know we should not do. At that point it becomes clear that He is vastly unfair, because being anything remotely fair in this situation wouldn’t look like this. This isn’t what we deserve.
It is at that moment, when we finally understand this, when all of the masquerades of who He is are stripped away and all we have left over is Grace, that we make the decision to not sin because of our value for His heart rather than what bad things may happen to us if we do. It is only when all punishment is finally stripped away that the choice presents itself to choose to love Him just because you want to, rather than being forced to.
Grace is a license to sin. It is greasier than fried chicken. It is the declaration that you are free to do whatever you want to do and there will be no punishment from Heaven upon you as a result. Heaven’s hope is that you will realize that it is only in that context that you can truly choose to live a life that is not your own. It is only in the context of grace that one can really choose to not sin, because it is an act of love rather than the avoiding of punishment. Fear is never a lasting solution, but love never fails.
This is the long road to changing behavior; Grace. The short track may appear to work for a short time, but be assured, it sets you and others up for failure and will ultimately fail. If it doesn’t fall flat on its face, it still leads the person to live a muted, colorless, riskless life, one defined by what may happen to them if they do what they shouldn’t or don’t do what they should. They are always shoulding on themselves. Every choice they make, they make with themselves in mind, rather than making choices according to what He has in mind. It is the epitome of selfishness, yet dressed up as holiness. Character isn’t the apex of spiritual maturity; choosing relationship is.
Let His kindness be what motivates you to live a different and better life. Let Him love you into the person you always dreamed to be.