What Motivates You? Jeremiah 31:31-34

What Motivates You?   Jeremiah 31:31-34

What Motivates You?                                                         Jeremiah 31:31-34

In talking about what moves people to change, psychologists and educators will sometimes talk about intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation.  Extrinsic motivation has to do with something outside of ourselves causing a change in our behavior.  Think about driving the speed limit.  The signs with the speed limit on them and police officers who might be parked around the corner are extrinsic reasons why we might slow down.

An intrinsic motivation is one that comes from inside of us.  This would be when we are on the freeway and we look down at the speedometer.  Suddenly, we realize we are pushing 80 or 90 miles per hour.  Our heart skips beat for a moment as we realize we are entering a danger zone.  Not wanting to hurt ourselves or others, we begin to slow down.

Most people would agree that while extrinsic factors are important and necessary to affect behavior, the best thing would be for people to be intrinsically motivated and want to change their behavior.  This can be especially evident in education.  Most good teachers want their students to have a love of learning, not just come to school because they have to.  Teachers want this for their students because they know self-motivated learning will stick with their students and affect them positively for the rest of their lives.

Towards the beginning of the Bible we hear about how God gave the Israelites the Ten Commandments.  God gave the people the law because God knew they needed extrinsic motivation to help them get along and thrive as a community. But later on through the prophet Jeremiah God reveals God’s ultimate intention:

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

This was why Jesus was willing to go to the cross to die for us, because he knew that God didn’t want to force people to believe in Jesus, but God wanted to show how much God loves us so that our hearts might be moved on the inside and we would want to change for the better—we would want to follow the way of Jesus.  God knows that this internal motivation for change is the kind that can stick with us throughout our lives and into eternity.

-Pastor Erik Goehner