Pet training


By Deacon Bill Hagen
For the Umatuna Si Yu’os

John 15: 9-17: “If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love.”

How many of you have ever had to train a pet?  Most animal trainers will agree that the use of pain or punishment is not very productive in training an animal to behave or do various functions.  What works?  What works in motivating animals is reward or the hope of reward.  When the animal being trained completes the desired task they are rewarded.  When they repeat the task again they are once again rewarded.  Sometimes trainers even reward random behavior if the random behavior is something the trainers want the animal to learn to do on command.

This same phenomenon of rewarding good behavior works with children and even adults.  We reward desired behavior and ignore unwanted behavior. Punishment, or fear of punishment, may prevent someone from a particular behavior but seldom are we motivated to improve or do a better job out of fear.  People will improve, learn and accomplish more when they are motivated by the thought of reward or even recognition and praise.

At the time of Jesus, the Romans ruled through fear, and it was very effective when it came to keeping order but that fear never inspired anyone to excellence.  Fear reduces a person’s ability to perform.  Fear eliminates creativity and the desire to improve.  But, what about love?

Are we motivated by love?  Do we respond to love?  Do we look for love from our family and our friends?  Love has built empires.  Love has created the world’s most beautiful art and music.  Love has motivated the world’s writers and poets and love of God is what keeps us obeying Jesus.  Jesus tells us that if we keep his commandments we will remain in his love.  Now what could be greater than to be living in God’s Love?

Jesus makes it very clear. He says, “Love one another as I love you.” Now that’s a commandment with a clear reward and the reward is: Living in God’s Love.

Deacon Bill can be contacted at