Changing duty into choice

By Dave Henning / September 26, 2013

As Timothy Keller concludes Chapter 5 of The Prodigal God, he asks : “How can the inner workings of the heart be changed from a dynamic of fear and anger to that of love, joy, and gratitude?”  His answer is that we have to be moved by the sight of what it cost Jesus, our true elder brother, to bring us home.  The key is inner-heart motivation.

Our choice, the author notes, seems to be either to turn from God and pursue our heart’s desires like the younger brother, or repress our desires and fulfill our moral obligations like the elder brother.  In Jesus, however, we see that all we have been seeking is found in Him.  John Newton captured this beautifully in his hymn “We Were Once As You Are”:

“Our pleasure and our duty,

though opposite before,

since we have seen his beauty

are joined to part no more.”

Pastor Keller adds that seeing the beauty of what Jesus has done for us also eliminates our fear.  He asserts that if Jesus, the Lord of the Universe, loves us so much that He died on the Cross, we have nothing to be afraid of.  We’re freed from the fear and neediness that creates younger or elder brothers.  In his hymn “Love Constrained to Obedience”, William Cowper wrote:

“To see the Law by Christ fulfilled,

and hear his pardoning voice,

changes a slave into a child

and duty into choice.”

Today’s question: To what degree is fear a component of your current thoughts and emotions?  What might help you concentrate on what Jesus has done for you?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Home, Sweet Home”


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Dave Henning

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