Motives: why we do the things we do.
Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in [Jesus]. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human praise more than praise from God. -John 12:42-43
There were several leaders of the Jewish people who actually trusted and sort-of followed Jesus, but they weren’t ‘sold out’. They weren’t willling to give up their social standing in order to follow Him openly.
In Christian circles, our problem is often the opposite. Many of us will do the seemingly ‘sold out’ thing: a mission trip, a lifestyle change, a bigger leadership role at church. But I know that I have to check my motives on these things. I ask myself, “Are you doing it solely for Jesus’ glory . . . or are your motives even the slightest bit selfish?” It’s easy to convince yourself that you deserve the praises or at least the attention that comes from sacrificing so much for God. Even if you truly don’t care what other people think (yeah, right!), you may do it for that ‘pat on the back’ from God.
As I clean up after my kids’ birthday parties, there are always half-eaten pieces of cake. But it’s not like they eat the left side and leave the right side. With rare exceptions (that one weird kid . . .), kids eat the TOP of the cake–the part with the icing, and leave the BOTTOM. Do you eat the cake just for the icing? Do you still ask for that corner piece with the big flower on it? If your cake had no icing, would you even want a piece? Here’s my point: If no one ever saw or recognized that thing you’re doing ‘for’ God . . . if even God didn’t give you any recognition for it . . . would you still do it? When you are authentic with yourself, what is your real motive?
I am not advocating a ban on cake icing–blah. Nor am I suggesting that we drop all of our Kingdom work until we have a chance to examine our motives. But let’s be completely honest with ourselves. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to reveal those areas of service where we’re actually more interested in our own glory than in His. This is something I struggled with even in starting this blog, and it’s the reason I don’t use my name or details anywhere on the site. I long to be more important at the same time that Father keeps calling me to be less (Jn 3:30).
The right thing done for the wrong reason is as much a sin as doing the wrong thing. Ouch. It’s because He is more interested in our being than our doing. And the wrong thing done for the right reason? The end justifies the means? (I’ve written about this before.) Still sin. The way is certainly narrow.
Here’s the challenge: Will you sacrifice that well done, my good and faithful servant (Matt 25:23) on the altar of His glory? Are you willing to release even that? Until we can get to the place where we need absolutely NOTHING in return for our obedience–not from God or from others–He is not receiving the utmost glory.