The Many Faces of Motivation
The tanks worked their way through the battered streets. Fighting had been heavy throughout France. After what seemed like an eternity, the Nazis had finally been driven back. The American soldiers had fought bravely in what was later known as the "Battle of the Bulge." Now, fatigue was evident, but morale was high; the hard-fought battle was finally over. Many of these soldiers had gone above and beyond the call of duty, risking their lives to protect a group of Americans (including my father) who had been cut off and surrounded by the Germans.
However, not all the soldiers were as honorable. Conrad was heavily involved in the black market. He made a tremendous profit selling medical supplies, tobacco, liquor and other products of "necessity." Conrad could not wait to move into the newly occupied territory. The recent battles have created a demand for some of his merchandise. The heavier the fighting, the greater the demand. To Conrad, war was great business.
There are many reasons why a person joins the military. Some soldiers join out of loyalty or patriotism to their country. Others join to make tremendous profits through the black market, and others join just for "the thrill of it."
Christians too, have many differing reasons for performing their Christian service, and unfortunately, some of these motives are not Christ-centered. Many people are involved in Christian service because they love Christ and want to glorify him. However, monetary gain, praise, or recognition motivates some Christian workers. Others do it because they feel empty and want to bring fulfillment into their life. It makes them feel important and needed.
At the Judgement Seat of Christ, the true motives of our good works will be exposed. Our good works done with pure motives will be separated from our good works done with impure motives. We will then be rewarded only for the good works done with proper motives, not for the ones done with improper motives.
Donating money to church is a good example of differences in motivation. Let’s consider two different people who put $500 into the church offering plate. The first Christian quietly places his money in the plate out of his love for Christ and his desire to see the gospel sent out. The second Christian flashes his money before those sitting around him because he wants to impress them and draw attention to himself. The motives of the first believer are pure and he will receive great rewards for his deed. The motives of the second believer are selfish and impure. He will receive no eternal rewards for his deed.
A major Pro-Life rally had taken place in Tim’s hometown and the local newspaper did not even mention it. Tim was angry because he felt the paper was biased and unfair in their coverage. When he approached the editor, he was told the reason it was not mentioned was because they needed to be notified two weeks in advance. "Two weeks notice," Tim snapped. "You mean to tell me you have to have two weeks notice before you will cover an airplane crash!"
The two argued back and forth for half an hour, taking jab after jab at each other. Finally, feeling total disgust and contempt, Tim stormed out of the room. He was angry because he felt God’s people were getting a raw deal. There is, of course, a "holy anger," an anger when the people of God suffer a grave injustice. This anger, though, should always be directed toward the sin and not the sinner. We should hate the sin and love the sinner.
When doing the Lord’s work and things don’t go right, do you get angry? If you do, think of the reason of your anger. God requires us to follow His leading to the best of our ability, but He never asks us to ensure its success. In 1 Corinthians 3:6,7, Paul says that while some people are to plant and others are to water, it is God who brings the growth. In other words, the success of a project is God’s responsibility and not ours. If we get angry when we run into problems, it may very well mean the project is ours and not God’s.
Anger, in turn, will cause us to be careless and vulnerable. Policemen, in particular, have to guard against taking insults personally. They have to understand that most insults are not directed at them, but against the "system." More important, they have to understand if they take an insult personally, their judgment becomes distorted and the problem can quickly escalate. Experienced street fighters take advantage of this phenomenon. They will say or do something that will make their opponent angry, thereby causing the opponent to lash out carelessly. Satan, of course, is much more cunning that any human, and he employs these concepts even more wisely than humans. Remember the warning written in Ephesians 4:26-27: "Be angry and sin not ... Neither give place to the devil."
Christians have varying opinions on how God will reward us for our good works once we get to Heaven. I believe that when we arrive there, we will not view rewards with the same selfish perspective that we do now. We will not be comparing our rewards with those around us. Our rewards will have value to us only because they honor Christ.
Our rewards are not strictly an accumulation of crowns and jewels. When we arrive in Heaven, our hearts will be set fully on Jesus and we will want to give Him all the glory. We will no longer struggle with our old nature or its selfish desires. I believe the main portion of our rewards will be our capacity to glorify God. Just as the moon reflects the light of the sun, we will reflect the glory of the Son of God. The more a person lives for Christ here on Earth, the greater will be his capacity to glorify Christ in eternity. The moon has no light of its own, and likewise, we will have no glory of our own.
Purely speaking, our only motives for Christian service should be our love for Christ and our desire to bring Him glory. 2 Corinthians 5:14a says, "For the love of Christ constraineth us." Our service for Christ is a manifestation of our affection and love for Christ. Our goal should be to cultivate an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, which includes doing things we know will please Him. Our desire should be to get as close as possible to Him, not how much we can get from Him.
When I was at Bible School, a friend of mine was involved in several Christian projects because he wanted to stockpile rewards in Heaven. One day, he overheard some students talking about Revelation 4:10. When he heard the words, "And they cast their crowns before the throne," he realized that his motives were wrong. He was seeking the gift instead of the Giver.
Though some Christians have lived an unfruitful life and will receive only a few heavenly rewards, I do not think they will feel lacking or incomplete. All believers will be filled to their fullest capacity. Visualize two containers sitting on a table. One is a small glass and the other is a gallon jug. Fill both containers to the top, and you have two containers that are completely filled, lacking nothing. Likewise in Heaven, all believers will be filled to the top with the glory of God.
Recent scandals of religious leaders have exposed the impure motives of some Christians. Money, power and prestige are just a few of these impure motives that have surfaced. However, guilt, emptiness or desires to feel needed are just as improper a motive as money or power. Even a desire to reach a lost and dying world should not be our primary motivation. Our love for Christ and desire to glorify God must motivate us; our vision for a lost world only directs us.
When our desire of glorifying and loving Christ becomes the motivating factor in our life, we will no longer be doing Christian works for our own personal gain. The success of our life is no longer a primary concern. We can now look to Jesus as the author and finisher of our life. We become vessels willing to be used wherever and however God desires.
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