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    Interior Motivation Matters in Living a Moral Life

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    In reading The Sermon on the Mount and Paul’s Letter to the Romans, both offer different views of the Jewish Law. Jewish Law speaks of the importance of the Ten Commandments. Which expresses the great love and respect for God. They also saw this follow in faith of God as a way to begin self critique. Asking oneself: “To whom are you committing yourself? Are you abiding by freedom?, and Are you enslaving yourself and others?” With these questions one is able to understand themselves better and therefore understand the devotion and commitment of the covenant to God. Now that we have a background of the Jewish Law, let’s delve deeper into the other views of Jewish Law from both sides of Jesus and the Sermon on the Mount to Paul’s Letter to the Romans.

    Jesus’ teachings had began on the mountainside, as his disciples gathered around Him. Jesus’ role was now the new Moses. His intentions were not change the law, but rather fulfill it’s prophetic promise. Jesus was embarking a new authoritative approach where he began preparing the disciples for living with God. In doing so, righteousness was expected from the Christian disciples. He began by interpreting the Ten Commandments, not changing them entirely, but making modifications. Offering a new quality to their regular religious practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Judaism praised faith by following the Ten Commandments, many devout individuals had taken this law word for word. Whereas Jesus did not completely disband Jewish Law but rather enhanced it. In speaking of the fulfillment of the law, Jesus proclaims, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them…

    For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven(Matthew 5:17, 20).” This statement defines Jesus view on Jewish Law and its importance: he understands there are standards, but he also expresses a new way of living with God. It requires full and complete trust in God, allowing oneself to be open and trusting towards God. In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he is a missionary who had been entrusted with a God given mission to preach to the Gentiles. He first disagreed with how covenant was a way for Jews to separate themselves from others. We are better in unity and we are a stronger faith when we pray and give together. He then takes time to discuss the hypocrisy of Jewish Law. How works by Law and Works by Flesh were wrong if one believed that was the way to trust of God. Rather the trust in God came from faith in God by resurrection.

    Jewish Law revolves around following and abiding by covenant laws, with no deviation for fear of losing salvation. Paul brought about a new way of building a relationship with God. This was done through the justification of faith. Instead of trusting only in the law, we must ask ourselves, where does your trust lay? Even with the right intention, you still must have full and complete trust in God. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘But the righteous man shall live by faith(Romans 1:16-18).’” He includes this statement which perfectly represents his views on the importance of Jewish Law. Even though he does not defame Jewish Law and completely disband it, he does believe that there is more to following God than just what is taught by Jewish Law.

    Because even if one abides by the laws and rules with good intent it does not mean one has trust in God. So, all can join in on this journey, so long as they have trust in God through Christ and willingness to learn and grow with others around them. Interior motivation matters in living a moral life. Jesus teaches, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled (Matthew 5:6).” Jesus expresses how having internal devotion and love for God is important, but to an extent. He does so by words of “hunger and thirst;” which are parallels for a desire/motivation to do what is right. Follow God’s will by Jesus teachings.

    We must have faith and follow in God’s desired path, which is so rightly done in following the teachings, but furthermore we must express those teachings. Even though we may have the right intention to do the right thing for the right reason, that doesn’t matter if that intention is never acted upon. In correlation with living a moral life, it is necessary to go that extra length for not only God, but your own self. In relation to Paul’s letter to the Romans, he speaks of moral judgement by, “They show that the demands of the law are written in their hearts,while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even defend them (Romans 2:15-16).” Interior motivation is important because we see the law is there and that it is justified. There is no way to hide your inner self from God, so our interior motivation can be seen as the first steps on our journey of faith in God. But, remembering these are only the first step’s in Paul’s perspective.

    Jesus teachings speaks of the Wise and Foolish Builders saying, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.” This wise man had the interior motivation and knowledge, but what mattered most was his external action. He had succeed morally and took his words and faith into action, by building the house on the rock.

    For Jesus, having interior motivation was a necessary, but also taking action with those words was key. It is one thing to know what is morally wanted and do nothing about it, then to know the rules and obligations and spread that knowledge to not only yourself but others. In turn, when looking at Paul’s letter to the Romans, he too claims how interior motivation can only bring oneself only so far in their faith. By means of building this relationship with God, it takes much more than the right intention and mindset, but instead to move beyond the laws and rules, and to express what is morally right. However, it is important to remember that one’s actions will be judged by God. So be careful as to those actions, but do not stray from faith.

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    Interior Motivation Matters in Living a Moral Life. (2022, Nov 30). Retrieved from https://artscolumbia.org/interior-motivation-matters-in-living-a-moral-life/

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