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Just Keep Swimming

Hope Assurance Motivation

Source: Eagle Valley Behavioral Health, et al

Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2022-02-09

Scripture: Titus 1:2 ; 2 Corinthians 5:5

Author: Illustration Exchange


Curt Paul Richter was a Harvard and Johns Hopkins educated biologist, psychobiologist and geneticist, who served for many years as director of Johns Hopkins’ psychiatric clinic, where he served until becoming professor of psychobiology in 1957. 

He made many important contributions to the fields of biology and psychobiology. One of his most famous experiments involved drowning rats – a study which, today, would probably land him in jail for animal cruelty.

He knew that rats had a reputation for being able to swim for exceedingly long periods of time (in excess of 50 hours!). Yet when he placed rats in a tightly confined bucket of water, they quickly discovered they had no means of outlet, no means of relief, and literally gave up, allowing themselves to simply sink to the bottom, and drowning, on average, within about 15 minutes.

He knew they had the “physical” ability to continue swimming much longer, so concluded they must have felt both helpless and hopeless. So he tried again, this time pulling the rats from the water once he saw them beginning to struggle. He let them rest for a short time before returning them to the bucket. They once again began swimming, testing the confines of their surroundings, but instead of giving up and allowing themselves to sink and drown, they kept swimming! And swimming! And swimming! Many swam up to 60 hours until their bodies could simply no longer endure.

What was the difference between these two groups of rats? Richter concluded the difference was HOPE -- that “feeling of expectation” that a particular outcome or desire will come to pass (Google Dictionary), “to look forward to [something] with desire and reasonable confidence” (

These drowning rats had been saved once, so they were instilled with the hope – the expectation, the reasonable confidence -- of eventual rescue yet again. Sadly, their hope was misplaced. Their motivation to battle the fatigue, battle the seemingly impossible circumstances, and just keep swimming still landed them in the bottom of the bucket.


Hope is an amazing motivator. And when it is well placed, it is a lifeline. 

To the Christian, who has placed their hope squarely in the promises of God, our “feeling of expectation” is much more than a feeling.  It is an assured confidence “in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began" (Titus 1:2). It is that knowledge and confidence in Christ’s finished work on our behalf that will ultimately result in our salvation and eternal life,

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal … so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (2 Cor 4:16–5:5).

Life gets hard folks. You may feel hemmed in on every side, with no visible means of relief or escape. Your body, not to mention your mind and spirit, may want to just give up. But, in the immortal words of Disney’s Dory, “Just keep swimming!” 

Allow the assured promises of God to keep you motivated. Death will be swallowed up in life. He has given you His Spirit as a guarantee of the salvation and glorification which is to come!

We Obey What We Love

Grace Transformation Motivation

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2021-11-21

Scripture: Galatians 3:3 ; 2 Corinthians 5:17

Author: Mitchell Dillon


Paul tells us that when we become Christians we become “a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17), that we “put off the old self with its practices … and have put on the new self, which is being renewed” (Colossians 3:9-10, ESV).  Like a butterfly that rises from its cocoon, we emerge as renewed creatures.

Before, we trusted in good works for salvation, now we trust in the finished work of Christ. Before, we lived in fear and shame, now we live in light of God’s perfect love and forgiveness. Before, we resolved to do better by conjuring up the mustard to overcome bad habits and sinful behaviors, now we resolve to do better by conjuring up the mustard to overcome bad habits and sinful behaviors.

Wait a minute!! That last one didn't sound any different than what we were doing before our salvation. How is it that grace has transformed everything about us except the process of transformation itself? Could it be that we are failing to turn to grace at this strategic point and are relying on old habits instead? Seriously, how is the approach most of us take to overcoming bad behavior any different from how we exercised self-control before we came to faith in Christ?


It is important to take note that in all of the ways that grace has affected a change in our lives there has always been a transition from relying on human effort to relying on divine provision.  With that all-important point in mind, we fool ourselves if we think that we have transitioned to grace in our efforts to overcome sin if we are, in fact, still relying on human effort.

This was Paul’s point when he asked the legalistic Galatians, “After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3). They began their Christian experience by relying on God’s provision for salvation but they attempted to go on to maturity not by grace but by continuing to rely on human effort. Sound familiar?

The real solution to chronic issues of disobedience isn’t more effort but more love. To turn to human effort to solve a problem that was created by human effort is nonsensical, as Paul pointed out.  What we need, instead, is to love God more than the things that tempt us away from Him.

Here's the central point: We Obey What We Love.

We yield to temptation because we love the things that tempt us. We overcome temptation by loving God more than anything else. But search as we may, this love won't be found in our flesh. To find it, we must turn from ourselves and ask God to fill us with more of His love.

So, when you find yourself failing to be obedient to God over something, don’t resolve to do better or try harder next time. Instead, ask God to give you a love for pleasing Him that’s greater than your love for that sin. When it's more love for God that provides the victory, then you can rest assured that you have not only begun your Christian journey in the Spirit but that you are learning to finish it in the Spirit, as well.

The Carrot And The Stick

Motivation Fear Love (Uncondtional)

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2020-12-20

Scripture: 1 John 4:18 ; 1 John 4:19

Author: Illustration Exchange


Carrot and stick motivation is a motivational approach that involves offering a reward—for good behavior and a negative consequence for poor behavior. 

The Carrot and Stick approach of motivation is based on the principles of reinforcement set forth by philosopher Jeremy Bentham, during the industrial revolution. It is derived from the old story of a donkey, who was motivated by a carrot dangling in front of him and the jab of a stick from behind.


Some people are carrot people and some are stick people.  Among Christians, the carrot people attend prosperity churches (where prosperity is promised to those with the appropriate amount of faith), while the stick people attend more legalistic churches (where punishment is threatened to those who fall short of obedience).

But when God’s love is described as unconditional in the Bible, it is saying that God has put down the stick and has thrown away the carrot.  God’s unconditional love is not a bribe.  God’s unconditional love is not a threat.

The truth is, neither the carrot nor the stick can produce unconditional love.  Both motivations are based on fear, so they are only able to produce fear and insecurity.  But when a person receives God’s unconditional love, all fear in their relationship with God is immediately dispatched.  That person becomes free of the carrot and of the stick.  Instead of being controlled by fear, they are now free to love God just because they want to, not because they are afraid not to. 

Only God's unconditional love can transform a human heart so that love is the only motivation it needs.  

"Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first" (1 John 4:18-19).  

Asking The Wrong Question

Love for God Motivation Legalism

Contributed By: Neal Pollard | Date Posted: 2020-08-16

Scripture: Hebrews 10:25

Author: Neal Pollard

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What Shamu Taught Me About Marriage

Marriage Humor Motivation

Contributed By: John Reed | Date Posted: 2018-07-21

Scripture: 1 Peter 4:8

Author: Amy Sutherland

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How To Get Things Done In Russia

Servanthood Control Motivation

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2018-04-16

Author: Illustration Exchange

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The Drowning Stranger Dilemma

Morality Atheism Motivation

Contributed By: Mitchell Dillon | Date Posted: 2017-05-03

Author: "Matt" at Well Spent Journey

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The Protracted Replay Of Bitterness

Forgiveness Bitterness Motivation

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2017-01-07

Scripture: Ephesians 4:26

Author: Illustration Exchange

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God Is Watching You

God's Omnipresence Perspective Motivation

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2016-11-18

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 2:17 ; Hebrews 4:13

Author: Illustration Exchange

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The Homeland of the Bribe

Motivation Grace Legalism

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2016-09-20

Scripture: 1 John 4:18

Author: Illustration Exchange

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