Don’t get hung up on motives, give your
motives to God, and do what is right.
The Scriptures contain a number of motives by which mankind is led to accomplish the tasks that God desires. One of these is the fear of loss, as described in I Corinthians 3:12-15. “If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. It it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus describes another motive which should impel us in the correct use of time and resources. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19-20) Several godly motives are mentioned in II Corinthians chapter five. One of these is the fear of the Lord. “Since then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men.” (Verse 11a) Verse nine relates the following motive “So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.” Love of our Lord is mentioned repeatedly as a motive, primarily in John’s Gospel. “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” (John 14:21) Again, in II Corinthians 5:20 (Wuest) we read that Christ’s love being expressed through us is a motive for service to Him as well. “For the love which Christ has for me presses on me from all sides, holding me to one end and prohibiting me from considering any other, wrapping itself around me in tenderness, giving me an impelling motive.”
Our motives may differ and change as we walk with Christ. Lorne has cautioned us against introspection of our motives, as that would deter us in our walk. Some, wanting the highest and purest motive, may fear that there is a mixed motive in their service to the Lord. Our enemy may plant the thought that, after all, we are serving the Lord for our benefit, and not His. If we accept his implanted thought, we may be caught up in evaluation of our motives, rather than keeping our eyes on the Lord.
One young man with whom I was meeting years ago had done quite well in a spiritual discipline which was transforming his life. The scriptures had been used to give him a heart for the Lord and for others. Surprisingly, he related to me at the end of the course that he was no longer planning to continue in that spiritual endeavor. His reason was that he was afraid that his motive for the spiritual discipline was to please me rather than to please the Lord! Another man with whom I met periodically was almost afraid to make any spiritual investment in others because he doubted that his motives were correct! In my own life, I have observed that the enemy introduces questions periodically in my thoughts that are designed to delay me in following the Lord’s path of service to Him and others. He may suggest the following “Are you sure that your motive is pure? “Why are you doing what you are doing with others? Whenever I hear the voice of the enemy in this regard, I am encouraged by Lorne’s word “Give your motives to God and do what is right.”
In II Thessalonians 1:11 we read the following. “With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.” What, may we ask, is our faith in? Does our God fulfill every good purpose and act because our faith is in our motive? Does self introspection and improvement of the perception of our motive render our service more acceptable to God? Assuredly not! Our service to our Lord is acceptable because it is in His name that it is offered. We are perpetually dependent upon Him to do His work through us. It is faith in Him, not our motive, that is pleasing to Him. Our Lord has shown us what is right in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), the Great Commandment (Luke 10:27), and the Great Requirement. (Micah 5:8) As we focus on these avenues of service God has given us to do, we can simply give our motives to God and do what is right.
In Christ, Richard Spann