I measure maturity by how quickly a person responds to a situation with an answer that is influenced by the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22,23.)
I believe that our motivation to work and to service progresses through stages until we are finally moved to respond to opportunities by the power of the Spirit – manifesting the fruit of His influence.
First, and farthest from maturity, is the motivation that is produced by fear. Much church leadership has used fear of hell to control behavior and commitment to its instructions. This explains much of the immaturity of members of the church for centuries. Fear is cast out by perfect love, because fear involves torment. He who fears has not been made perfect in love (1 John 4:18). This motivating influence is external.
Second, people are motivated by reward. Only preparing to the minimal extent that I have to in order to get paid is miserly. Most marriages are built from this “I’ll do my half if you do your half” system of trade. If I stop being paid, I stop serving. This is an external influence. I want something that I don’t own. I have to meet someone else’s demands to obtain it.
The next step toward maturity is to be influenced by duty. It is a shift from having chores assigned to me to having a sense of responsibility. I become aware that when my chores are finished I should maybe help you with yours. It is still related to both fear and reward, because I am still afraid of being accused of failure and I still am serving with the hope of recognition.
Finally, when I am mature, I am moved by agape to serve. I recognize that Jesus was speaking a mystery to us when He said that if I serve the least of one of His people I am actually serving Him. It becomes clear that no sacrifice is too great, because if I am really serving Him, no offering is great enough to be appropriate. It is the result of having outside Help inside – the Holy Spirit moving my heart to serve with the love that He has for the people He is influencing me to bless. His love becomes my strength.
Father loved the world so much that He sent Jesus (John 3:16) and Jesus loved the world so much that He sent us (John 20:21) and the Holy Spirit loved the world so much that He was sent to empower us to make their love effective here (John 7:37-39).
Our grandest successes in our callings will be accomplished because we love. We will give evidence that we belong to Jesus because we love. Love is more powerful than any other force. It is the most awesome Motivator.