“You know,” Stan commented one morning, “it can be interesting to think about and look at what motivates people to do what they do.”
“Motivated to do what?” I asked.
“Anything, everything, whatever,” Stan replied.
Continuing, he added, “I was reading in the apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi and I ran across something that struck me as a way to examine what I do and why I do it.”
“In other words, what motivates you?” I responded.
“That’s it,” Stan replied.
“What was Paul writing about?”
“Preaching and proclaiming Christ,” Stan said. “Paul was writing about why some people were doing what they were doing in preaching and proclaiming Christ. Some were doing it out love, while others were doing it out of selfish ambition. This led me to think about what motivates me in my relationship with Christ.”
“Any conclusions?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he responded, “and it comes from Paul’s use of the expression, ‘pure motives’.”
“Pure motives?” I replied. “Versus what, impure motives?”
“That’s a good question,” Stan said, and added, “what I do in ‘proclaiming’ Christ, whether it’s in preaching or presenting the gospel or whether it’s in living the gospel, it seems to me that such proclaiming is to come only from the pure motive of seeking God’s ‘Well done!’”
“As contrasted to what?” I replied.
“Let me give you an example,” Stan said. “If I get to the point that I’m living the life I think God intends, but I’m doing it only so others will see me as something special, I’m way off base and heading down the wrong road.”
Continuing, he added, “I think that would be practicing righteousness to be seen by people rather than having the right and pure motive only to be pleasing in God’s sight.”
“Fine line isn’t it?” I asked.
“I don’t think so, my friend,” Stan said. “It is definitely a line, but I don’t think it’s a fine one. I’m either exalting self or I’m exalting God. One or the other. Can’t be both. In proclaiming Christ and in living the life God intends for me, my only motive is to be able to hear His ‘Well done!’”
Bible verses to consider:
The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, rather than from pure motives. Philippians 1:17.
Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 6:1.
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself. Philippians 2:3.
For through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. Romans 12:3.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for those who proclaimed the gospel so I could accept your free and gracious provision of life eternally with you when it’s time. Please help me in proclaiming and living the gospel for no other reason than to please you, not to ever practice righteousness to be seen by others. Help me to live the life you intend so it may make a difference in the life and eternal destination of each person you bring before me. Thank you that I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Think on this: Did someone proclaim and present the truth of the gospel so you were able to accept God’s free and gracious provision of life with Him eternally when it’s time? If so, have you thanked that person? If you have not yet come to faith in Jesus Christ, why not? What’s standing in the way? If you are a Christian, how are you doing in your proclamation of the gospel? How are you doing in living your life only to hear God’s “Well done” and not to be seen as righteous in the eyes of other people? If you sense the need for change in how you present Christianity and how you live the Christian life, how is that change going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?