In Victor Hugo’s les Miserables, Jean Valjean’s life was forever changed by the kindness and forgiveness he received from the priest, from whom he had stolen silver . He went on through life feeling compelled to help and forgive others, as he had been.
Paul described the same experience for the believer in Christ , who realizes he has been forgiven and adopted to sonship by God, though he deserves only punishment for living life apart from God. “Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.” 2 Corinthians 5:14-15
“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” Romans 12:1-2
It is a most natural response for us to be forever grateful for a great benefit received from another, such that the way we relate to that person is forever changed. When I personally came to realize that, because Jesus paid the penalty that I owed God, I could receive forgiveness and eternal life, my relationship toward God was forever changed. Previously a fretful performer on a treadmill, hoping I might be doing enough to win God’s approval, I was transformed into a grateful son who loved to please his Father.
The best motivation for godly living is gratitude for what God has done for us.
“Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.“ 2 Corinthians 7:1
“Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. For our God is a devouring fire.” Hebrews 12:28-29
“Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.” Isaac Watts, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross