Checking our motives
Hello everybody, I’m the Reverend Hank Wilson and welcome to the Christian Life Gospel Ministry’s – Dealing with life – A biblical guide to staying upright when life tries to knock you down.
Started things off today with Marty Robbins and you gotta climb.
We very rarely do anything for no reason. We all want something at some time. We have a motive for everything we do. Sometimes our motives are based on helping another, sometimes they are based on the ‘what’s in it for me’ thought, sometimes we do things to hurt another person, and sometimes we do things because it will be pleasing to God. The important concept is that we evaluate exactly what our motives are for our actions.
Today I want to take a closer look at the whole concept of evaluating our motives for our actions, especially as it pertains to our relationships with God and others of the church.
The questions I want to look at are:
- Do our motives really matter, I mean as long as we do the right thing, what difference does our motive make?
- Does God ever use the selfish person?
- What is the result when we do something for our spiritual life with a self-serving motive?
- Can we have purer motives?
- Is God as interested in our motives as He is in our deeds?
Do our motives really matter, as long as we do the right thing, what difference does it make? It can mean more than we realize at the time. Think about the story of Cain and Able in the Book of Genesis Chapter 4 verses 3-5: “So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the Fruit of the Ground. And Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And, the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering. But for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell”
The Bible does not go into detail about why God rejected Cain’s offering, however, when we look closely at the content, it would seem that Cain just tried to ‘get by’. The Book of Genesis describes his offering, as the fruit of the ground, while the description of Abel’s offering is the ‘firstlings of his flock and their fat portions’.
In other words, Abel offered the Lord his best, so as far as sacrifices go, he made the most effort and his motives were pure, whereas even though Cain had done the ‘right thing’ it is quite likely that Cain’s sacrifice was regarded as inappropriate because his motives were impure.
Cain got all cranky and God even talked to Him about it asking why he was angry. Cain knew that he had not done his best and we know that he then took out his anger on Abel by killing him. The rest of the story is very interesting and I urge everyone to take some time and read it and really think about it, because it does show what happens when we just try to go through the motion.
Cain was doing what the Lord, had commanded of him, but he pursued his spiritual life with a self-serving motive and it backfired on him.
How about those times when we do something with a selfish motive especially when it comes to church matters;
In Philippians Chapter 1 verse 18 Paul points out that, sometimes God chooses to use even those motivated by selfish ambition to accomplish his purposes
“What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice”
It has taken me awhile to really truly understand this verse, and then on Sunday before I delivered the message at the Cross Creek Cowboy Church one of the elders came up to me and told me how he had recently become upset and almost walked away from the church. However; after praying about things, he realized that the problem was he was simply mad about not getting his way and that he wasn’t putting the church first.
That type of behavior is something that we often see in a church organization and it has been taking place since the church began.
Philippians contains four major theological themes that pose issues for our modern church. The one that our verse touches on is that Philippians is all about Christian unity. In it Paul is reinforcing the concept that we should deal gently with other Christians we disagree with and that we display a willingness to put other’s needs ahead of our own.
In verses 15 through the first part of 18, Paul writes “ Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my ]imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice.”
Paul points out that even though he believes the motives of one group are false and the other true; he clearly states that both preach Christ, and he rejoices in that. It is clear when reading this section that Paul clearly believes that even though one group is preaching against him and they preach out of envy and rivalry, out of selfishness, not really sincere, guessing (not really knowing), and are trouble makers; they still have preached Christ.
Paul firmly believed that in the end, the truth would overcome the falsehoods and it would be easier to bring the true message to those who had sided with the opposition. If we turn our backs to them, they might be lost forever. There is no need to get angry and pouty when there are disagreements among fellow Christians. There is a need to try to lead everyone to Jesus and to do it in a humble manner and personally, I believe the best way to do that is to communicate with those with whom we disagree.
Sometimes we have a tendency to take a ‘what’s in it for me’ approach when it comes to our approach to God. There is a natural human tendency to want recognition for what we accomplish, for approval from others.
The truth is that when we pursue spiritual life with self-serving motives, not only do we rob God of our best, but we also rob ourselves of the joy God intends.
In the Gospel of Matthew in chapters 6 in verses 1-4 Jesus tells us that we need to “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.
“So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
His command is very straightforward; we need to make sure that when we are helping the poor or any of our charity work, as much as possible we are to deflect the honor away from ourselves and towards others. As Jesus says, the Father above knows exactly what we are doing. No need for us to advertise it, and if publicity does come our way, as I said deflect it towards others. Give the glory to God.
How can we make sure that we are living our lives and that we are sharing the message of Jesus with purer motives? We must learn to serve the lord with a pure heart and mind. In 1 Chronicles chapter 28 verses 9-10, we find Solomon being instructed by his father David ”As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever. Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary; be courageous and act.” Those instructions apply to us today, ‘serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind’, ‘seek Him and you will find Him’, and if we turn our back and reject Him, we are making a decision that affects our eternity.
God knows what is going on in our hearts and Proverbs Chapter 21, verse 2 reinforces that concept “Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts.” We might believe that we are walking the path that brings the most glory to God while in reality, we are doing it for our own reasons. And that will cause issues because we must recognize that God is as interested in motive as he is in our deeds. Paul writes to the church in Corinth, in 1 Corinthians chapter 4, verse 5 “..wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.” As we go about our business, it is important that we focus on not necessarily doing what the world wants, but we must do what God wants and for the right reasons.
As we examine our lives, we must remember that:
Our motives really do matter.
We must be gentle with those Christians who might have a different approach to our own; God will use them for His own good.
If we do something just to make an impression on others, it damages us spiritually.
We can develop purer motives in everything we do. It requires prayer and work on our part.
God is just as interested in our motives as He is in our deeds and He knows what is in our hearts and minds.
So walk in faith, we can’t be as the hypocrites are, trust Him to help us when we need the help.
We should start each day with a prayer, asking Jesus to help us get through this day doing everything with proper motives. Doing things that will only bring glory to God, we have to have Jesus inside us; He should fill our hearts and our minds. He should be our daily focus. One way to do that is to make sure Jesus is in our lives, by saying this simple prayer.
Lord Jesus, I come before you and confess that I am a sinner. Jesus, I believe that you died on the cross for my sins, and that Almighty God raised you from the dead. I pray that you forgive me of my sin, and come into my life and be my Lord and Savior. Amen.
That’s it for today folks, I’m the Reverend Hank Wilson, thank you for joining me here on the Christian Life Gospel Ministry’s – Dealing with life – A biblical guide to staying upright when life tries to knock you down.
Stop by our website christianlifegospel.org for past recordings, you can join the conversation on Facebook @christianlifegospel, on twitter @txchristianlife. (repeat)
Closing things out today with Wanda Jackson and One day At A time.
Until next time, stay strong, stay in prayer, and you can always find me sitting on the porch out in the country, doing my best to live the Christian Life. God Bless y’all