01 April 2011

Question of the Week:
What Motivates God?

by Anne Lang Bundy

"The Kiss"
V-J Day, August 14, 1945, Times Square
photo credit: Alfred Eisenstaedt, Life Magazine

"We measure the worth of a treasure
by what we will gladly give up in order to have it."
~ John Piper

"Why did God create things the way He did, knowing what we'd turn into?"
~ Wendy Paine Miller

This could also be asked as, "Why did God put both Himself and us through all this grief?" Behind the above question, might we even infer The Question:

"Why does a good God allow suffering?"

An answer to that was offered in the post "Why Suffering?" So let's take another angle and answer, "Can we understand what motivates God?"

The Bible says over and over that God desires to be given glory (magnified, or made bigger, in worship, praise, thanksgiving, and testimony). He seeks to bring honor to His name, and therefore acts "for His name's sake." Even His expression of love for us goes toward the purpose of making known His holiness, goodness, grace, mercy, justice, majesty, and power.

Couldn't all that happen without sin and suffering and major mess-ups?

It could happen—nothing is impossible with God. But how good would it be?

But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.
~ Romans 5:20 (NKJV)

Any story teller (or fiction writer) knows that the greater the conflict, the greater the satisfaction in resolved conflict. The greater the suffering and obstacles overcome through God, the greater the grace He shows, and the greater the glory He receives.

For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.
~ 2 Corinthians 4:15 (NKJV)

Does it seem selfish of God to let us suffer so that He gets the glory? That's only half the picture. He bears far greater suffering for our sin than we do, yet He shares the glory with us.

It's called love.

What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory ...?
~ Romans 9:22-23 (NKJV, emphasis mine)

God doesn't simply want us to know His love and enjoy Heaven after a quiet rest on Earth. The Author of our salvation wants us to experience abundant, exceeding, higher-than-our-highest-imagination love and joy and peace—and created a conflict to create the ultimate triumph.

The resulting celebration is like the difference between the everyday kiss exchanged between a long married couple as they slide into the breakfast nook with coffee after a quiet night's sleep, and the triumphant reunion kiss of V-J Day when a sailor returns home after he's spent years away from home cheating death.

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What questions do you have about Christianity or the Bible? You're invited to leave them in the comments below (anonymous questions welcome), or email buildingHisbody [plus] @ gmail.com.

© 2011 Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.


  1. I don't remember asking that, but what a great question. ;)

    And answer. Just one of them Job things I turn over in my brain. I like how you brought it back to love--well, really God brought it back to love.

    ~ Wendy

  2. Thanks Anne - Suffering is so hard to understand, unless we see it in the context of moving toward something.

  3. Wendy ~

    Some questions stay in my file a long time before I see an answer to offer. In this case, I felt the answer for a long time before I figured out the words.

    And yes, most questions about God come back to certain foundational concepts: Love, Faith, Hope (Perseverance), Forgiveness, Repentance. Or, in a word, Grace.

  4. Rusty ~

    There's an interesting tension between the pain of suffering which learns to forget, and the looking forward which learns to remember.