There are basically three motivations in the church for doing good.
- The lowest level is Fear. This is the motivation of the slave. He will do good, do well to avoid punishment. It’s the motivation of karma; that is, what goes around comes around, so it’s in one’s own self – interest to do good.
- On a higher level is that of the employee, the hired hand. Serving to receive wages. I better be good so that I can go to heaven. Do well so God will reward me. The prodigal son would have been satisfied in being his father’s hired hand. The older brother also served at this level. “Father, I worked for you all these years and yet you never threw me a party, but this son of yours.”
- Children of God. These are the inheritors who do right because they are God’s children. The ones who will hear in wonder on the last day, when Jesus says, “Come, blessed of my father.” They already know they are free of punishment through grace and will receive their inheritance because of Jesus Christ. These are the prodigal children who have been restored as sons and daughters of the Father, out of grace.