Jeremiah 17:9 – We are good at hiding our motives— even from ourselves.
Isaiah 64:6 – It’s easy to look back at ancient Israel and say that about them… But what about us? So often our motives are not good either.
Psalms 139:1,2 – God knows our hearts.
I would like to first discuss some motivations that drive people to do bad things.
1) The desire for power (Acts 8:9,10, 14-18) Simon Magus)
2) The desire for fame (John 12:43)
“Half the harm that is done in this world is from people who want to be important…” – T. S. Elliot
3) The desire for money (Joshua 7, Achan; I Timothy 6:10)
4) Peer pressure (I Corinthians 15:33)
5) Our deceitful hearts (Matthew 15:19) (Psalm 51:10… our hearts need to be changed)
If we have the wrong motivations it can lead to two problems. One is that we burn out; The other is that we can lose our motivation.
What are some common motivations for good actions?
1) The fear of Hell… fear is not necessarily the best motivator, yet it does keep us from doing wrong (Matthew 10:28) (the parable of the talents) We need to mature beyond this motivation.
2) The desire for Heaven and rewards… Jesus does tell us that there are rewards for serving Him, but it probably shouldn’t be our primary motivation.
3) To impress people… (Acts 4:36-5:11) What counters this? Secrecy… (Matthew 6:3,4) Our goal should be to do things in secret… God knows what is done in secret.
4) To please others… It’s not necessarily bad to think about what others think— and we probably should! The important things that we care more about what Jesus thinks. We need to live for Him, not the acclaim of others (John 12:42,43)
This motivation can lead to two dangerous things: 1) we are too worried about pleasing others and do not think about what God wants and 2) we despair because we can’t please everyone.
Peter fell into this with the Judaizers— Galatians 2:11-14.
5) A desire to impress God… I think it’s a lot easier to please God than to impress Him. (Galatians 1:10; Romans 12:1; II Corinthians 5:9)
6) Because of duty… (Ecclesiastes 12:13,14) If we have a strong sense of duty we may get many things done, and yet it probably isn’t the best motivation. We can easily get burned out if we’re only driven by duty.
7) Because we love Jesus… I pray that each one of us would develop a desire to please Jesus because we love Him. It isn’t wrong to sometimes think about the other motivations we’ve mentioned, but this is the best motivation of all (John 14:15-24).
What does it look like to love Jesus? We do things that we know He wants us to do. Love serves without regard to the length of service. Genesis 29:20
How do we start living for an audience of one? There are many people watching us, but Christ should be the most important. (Colossians 3:23)
There is a tension in our lives, as we try to please the people around us but serve God most of all.
I pray that we would open our hearts to God and ask Him to show us where we need to grow. Let’s think about our motivations and grow in our love for Jesus.