Scripture Reference: 1 Peter 5:1-6
Greetings! We are two messages away from wrapping up this series, and from having 300 messages posted. Today, we talk about something that Jesus always enjoyed challenging people with, and that is our motives. Religion will always deal with the appearance, but Jesus always deals with the inward motivations of our hearts. So, I am expecting to have this become a strong, challenging message to all of us to check our motives and make sure the reason we do what we do…is for the right reasons…Amen!?!
Today’s Message: “Motives”
You know what!?! I opened my introduction the way I did on purpose because the question that always is on my mind is why am I doing this? Am I doing it because I want to be known as a great Christian blogger? Am I doing this so that I will be popular? Am I doing this so that people will know who I am? OR…Am I doing this because I want to help people start, develop, and maintain their relationship with God? Am I doing this to equip and encourage people to look at what I’m doing and realize that they don’t have to preach to a congregation to serve God? Am I doing this so that God’s name will be known?
All these questions (and those aren’t the only ones I ask myself) is exactly what Jesus wants me to do. Consider my motives. Consider the reasons why I am writing messages. Consider why I have a Christian Facebook Page, a Christian Twitter account, and why I’m writing these messages…because the truth of the matter is it doesn’t matter if my messages are great…if they’re written for the wrong reasons…then I’m just writing for nothing.
Paul took extensive time in the beginning of 1 Corinthians 13 to talk about motives, didn’t he?
1Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NKJV)
Jesus preached His first sermon about our motives also in Matthew Chapters 5-7 when He gave what is known as the Sermon on the Mount. The entire sermon He preached was about how religion looks at the outward appearance, and while God is concerned about that He is more concerned about the condition and motives of our hearts. I mean think about some of the things that Jesus said during the Sermon on the Mount.
21“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. Matt 5:21-22
Religion focuses on the act of murder, but here Jesus goes deeper to the emotion behind murder. He goes into our heart, and says that if you’re angry with your brother without cause is in danger of judgment. Let’s look at a couple more, and then we’ll get into this message.
27“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matt 5:27-28
Religion again focuses on the act of adultery, but Jesus takes it deeper and says that if we even look upon a member of the opposite sex with lust…WHERE?…in our hearts. Let’s do one more.
16“Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 17But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. Matt. 6:16-18
In the beginning of Matthew 6, Jesus talks about doing charitable deeds, and making sure that when we do them to not do them so that everyone will see what wonderful people we are, but to do them without making a scene. He also tells us when we pray not to pray some big, long extravagant prayer so that people will marvel at what a wonderful prayer we just prayed, but in secret with our Heavenly Father.
Then He talks about fasting and how when we fast we shouldn’t look like we’re fasting and suffering. He says to make sure we’re clean and showered and clothed, and that when we fast we’re not doing it to be seen so that people will think we’re so holy. No, He says to do that in secret also.
Why? Why not do charitable deeds so that the world will praise us for being such charitable people? Why not pray like some great religiously pious person with some kind of prayer that people want to write down and pray themselves? Why not make sure people see us when we fast so that they will be convicted and feel the need to fast themselves?
Because Jesus is dealing with MOTIVE. Our motives are birthed in our hearts, and that’s what God sees and judges. Sure, He certainly is going to judge the sin, but Jesus always brings the outward action back to the beginning…the inward birth of the outward action.
You see, friends, the outward action is the fruit of what’s happening on the inside of me. When I look upon a woman I have the choice right then and there to decide if I’m going to commit adultery with her in my heart or not, and Jesus said that if I just look at her with lust in my heart…it’s like I did the physical act of adultery. So…I didn’t actually have to sleep with that woman for God to consider me to have sinned…do I?
Why not? Because motive is in the heart. Don’t believe me? Jesus says it much better and clearer than I am. So, maybe you’ll believe what I’m saying if you hear it from Him.
18But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. 19For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. 20These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.” Matt. 15:18-20
Now, I realize that Jesus was speaking about something else here, but Jesus sums up in this verse what He had been preaching throughout His earthly ministry. Peter was looking again at the outward act, and Jesus scolded Peter for it and brought it back to the heart…MOTIVES. Out of the heart proceeds the things that we see on the outside.
Okay, the Lord gave me one last scripture, and then we’ll get into this message.
Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Matthew 23:28
Then the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees make the outside of the cup and dish clean, but your inward part is full of greed and wickedness. 40Foolish ones! Did not He who made the outside make the inside also? 41But rather give alms of such things as you have; then indeed all things are clean to you. Luke 11:39-41
Again, I realize Jesus was talking about something else in this passage…or was He? He made reference to how the Pharisees were always concerned about the outward appearance. Isn’t that what most religious people and even most Christians are concerned with today? Having the appearance or form of godliness. However, Jesus once again brings it back to the inside where He says they’re full of greed and wickedness.
So, when He talks about this cup…He isn’t talking about the actual physical cup at all is He? No, He’s back to talking about their hearts, and He’s talking to us about OUR hearts and motives.
Listen, all this talk here is about how we look to the world is a good thing. As Christians we should look and act differently. I’m not saying that we should ignore what we do because if what we do isn’t any different from what the world does…there’s a good chance we haven’t really allowed Jesus to impact our lives at all.
However, while we are concerned with what people see on the outside…God is trying to get us to look deeper…because that’s what He is looking at. Remember this verse: “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7?
God is looking at our MOTIVES not just our actions. Why? Because our actions are the fruit of our motives…Amen!?!
Why do I lead? What is my motive? These are two important questions to consider periodically as a pastor and church leader. Peter had his motives checked more than once by Christ during his tutorials as a young disciple. He exhibited some of the same weaknesses that we face as we grow and develop as leaders, including impulsiveness (cf., John 18:10), overconfidence (cf., Mark 14:29), envy (cf., John 21:20-22) and controlling tendencies (cf., John 13:8). By the time he wrote his first letter, he was no doubt familiar with brokenness and humility. He was not only a leader, but a “broken-in” leader. Today’s pastors or leaders are wise to consider Peter’s advice regarding leadership motivations.
So, now we bring it back to today’s message. As the pastor of basically an online ministry where my congregation changes regularly based upon the number of followers and fans I have according to the social networking sites I’m on…in the beginning I had a bit of a struggle with the number of people who were following me. I mean I was struggling to get to 10 people, and it bothered me. I would invite friend after friend and person after person to visit and like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter or check out my WordPress page…and it seemed for the longest time like I was only writing to myself.
Until God did something that got me to check myself. What did He do? He had a friend of mine since junior high school write me a message one day about how she didn’t “like” my posts, but that she read them on a regular basis and that she found inspiration and encouragement through what I was writing, but she wasn’t a “fan” she was someone who was basically following along in the shadows. Today, she’s a fan of my page and still reads my messages, but friends let me tell you how humbling an experience that was. It was the first and last time God had to check me on my motives as to why I am doing this online ministry stuff.
You see, God busted my pride by showing me that just because I may not have the hundreds of followers or fans someone else did…that didn’t mean I wasn’t reaching people. It meant that I needed to just obey God, and write these messages. You know seek God first, and He will take care of the results. That’s a paraphrase of Matthew 6:33-34…but the promise and principle in those verses is that if we’ll take care of God’s business He will take care of ours.
Today, at last check I am right around 700 followers through various social network sites, and I’ve reached over 100 nations. God has taken my messages around the world. I have heard from people in Africa, South America, and as far away as India who have read my messages…and use them to teach their people.
What happened? My motives changed. In the beginning I thought I was doing this to glorify God until I began to complain about the lack of people following me. God told me in the beginning back in 20o1 that He would draw people to my ministry, and that the people He drew to my ministry weren’t my people, but His. Still when months went by and I barely had 1o followers…my motives for doing this weren’t right. I was doing it so that I could be noticed, and then God confronted me on my motives.
I had a choice. To continue to allow myself and my popularity to be my motive for doing this, or I could realize that the reason for doing this was that I should do all things as unto the Lord…and out of a heart of love for people. I chose to change the motives, and as I changed my motives God began to not only help me become a better writer, but He started drawing people to my ministry.
Like I said I would venture a guess that I am probably reaching around 1,000 people…but the reason I do this isn’t so that I can be noticed for being such a great Christian blogger. I am doing this because I love you and I want your relationship with God to be as strong, as deep and as intimate as it can be. I love you, and I want to help you grow and mature so that you’ll be able to walk in the divine calling and destiny that God has for you. I do this because I love you, and want to encourage and equip you to step into what God has for you to do. My motives today are because I want you to be equipped and I want God to be glorified through what I am doing.
The book of 1 Peter opens by establishing the fact that all believers (leaders included) will suffer difficulties and challenges. He goes on to say that we should learn to view such “opportunities” with an attitude of joyful expectation, to trust that God will use them to spur our growth. The question Peter seeks to answer in this passage is: Why should a pastor or church leader be willing to suffer? His answer: Because of the reward God has promised. Before he reveals that reward, however, he taps into the important area of leadership motivation.
Boy, was Peter right about that. I’ve had things happen. I’ve had to deal with overheating a laptop, I’ve dealt with having broken links, I’ve had people comment on things just to be jerks, I’ve had persecution come my way, and of course the inability to write because of storms or unpaid bills or whatever.
However, I have learned to not only count it all joy as James exhorts, but to be excited about the struggles and sufferings because that just tells me that I’m doing something right, and that my motives for what I’m doing are right. I obviously haven’t suffered nearly as bad as others, and what I consider to be struggles are minor compared to the struggles of others. Still, when I face struggles and trials, when I write complete messages and lose them because of a computer freeze up, or whatever comes my way…I just give God the glory for that stuff because that means I’m making the devil mad and he’s trying to discourage me from continuing on.
You know what, that’s why was happening while I was complaining about the fact that I barely had any followers in the beginning. I was listening and allowing the devil to discourage me. I was allowing the devil to impact my ability to do what God had called me to do, and after a while God had enough and confronted me over it. So, not only did I have to change my motives, but I had to repent and ask for forgiveness for not trusting God…and for having the wrong motives.
Rewards. That gets me to another point about our motives. Can I tell you that if you’re serving God because you know that you’ll receive a reward…that is the wrong motive!?! Friends, the only acceptable motive for doing anything in ministry or for the Lord is out of a desire to glorify Him and share His love with others. If our motive is anything other than love for people or a desire for God to be made known and glorified…we have the wrong motive.
Bringing it back to my purpose. I’m certainly not going to win any awards for my messages, but I don’t want any. I don’t want to be noticed because I’m a fantastic blogger. I want God to be glorified. I want the Word of God to be magnified. I want God to get the glory for taking an ordinary life like mine, and giving me the ability to write messages like this. After all, God gave me the gift, God gave me the ability, and God gives me what to write…so who am I to seek any notoriety from it!?!
After deconstructing false (and ungodly) motivations for leadership, Peter paints a picture of what good and godly leadership looks like. He chooses the metaphor of a good shepherd, which Christ used in John 10. He digs deeply into the core of a leader’s motivation and calls them to not just fill a leadership slot, hold a title or take on an office, but to “be shepherds of God’s flock.” “Just as shepherds watch over their sheep, you must watch over everyone God has placed in your care.…” (1 Peter 5:2a).
Maybe it would help you to understand my heart with this ministry by writing in this message what the vision and mission of this ministry is. So, here you go…
Christlike Ministries NWA is about personal ministry. The desire of this ministry is to draw people to God through establishing a personal relationship with His Son…Jesus.
THE MISSION: To assist believers in developing their relationship with Christ through Bible study, prayer, and worship. Building quality believers so that they can experience God in a more intimate way.
Christlike Ministries NWA is a Social Network Outreach Ministry. We seek to bring the light of God’s Word to the Social Media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress.
This is the heart of Christlike Ministries NWA. I want you to experience a deeper more intimate relationship with God. That’s why I write these messages. That’s what this ministry is all about…personal ministry. It’s about pointing you to God…not me. I can’t save, I can’t change anyone’s life or heart, I can’t do anything…but God…God can do all things…and that’s the whole desire of this ministry is to point you towards Him…nothing I do for this ministry is about me…it is all for Him, all about Him, and all because of Him.
One question worth asking at this point is this: What relationship do “pressures,” “profit” and “power” have? Is there a common denominator? C.S. Lewis would say there is—PRIDE. Here’s how he describes it in Mere Christianity:
“Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind… [and] Pride is essentially competitive – by its very nature … Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others. If everyone else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone.”
You see, here is the choice we all have. Love for God or love for self. When I started doing this it was a mixture of doing it for God and for myself. It doesn’t work that way, friends. I have a choice to do this out of pride or out of love. If I do it out of pride…then I do this because I want people to see what a great writer I’ve become, but the truth is that I don’t do it out of pride at all. It’s nice to have people like what I write, but I know my heart is right because it humbles me. It’s humbling every time someone likes what I write because I know that it’s not in my ability. That’s how I know that I am doing this out of a right motive. The motive isn’t about me being noticed…it’s about God being glorified and promoted. It’s about me taking the gift that God has given me and using it for His glory…and that’s how you know if you’re doing things for the right motive.
I remember when I started doing this that I’d look at other blogs and Facebook pages, and it kind of was intimidating because I don’t have any professional writing training at all. I have never attended journalism school, I have never taken a creative writing class, and I while I knew that I was given the gift of writing when I saw other people’s writings I was quickly aware that my abilities were much less than that of others.
However, in the context of what we’re reading here…that was pride. It was me wanting to compete with other writers instead of using the gift God gave me. I want you to know God dealt with me on that also. He has helped me to become the writer I am today. He helped me to develop my layout, and while I’m certainly not great I can easily admit I’m a better writer today than I was in the beginning.
You see, when you lay down all the wrong motives, and you really pick up the right ones that’s when God can take you, mold you, and work you into the person He wants you to be. When you lay down the wrong motives, and allow the things that motivate God to motivate you…that’s when you pick up His heart…and allow His desires and motives to become yours.
One of the best ways to keep ourselves and the people we serve humble is to keep our eyes, hearts and minds focused on the Word of God. It not only purifies us, it also humbles us. As leaders, our duty is to help people turn away from pride and stay engaged in the Word of God.
I really try to maintain a humble attitude when it comes to this ministry, and the messages I write. I am always asking God to keep my motives right because I want to be sure that I am doing this for the right reasons. That’s some times why I will take a break from writing even. Some times I get to feeling like I have to write, and when I get that feeling I know it’s a wrong motive. When it feels like an obligation then I know that I need to back off for a bit, and recapture the heart of God so that it gets back to being about Him and about serving Him.
The truth is…if I can’t steer myself away from pride then I can’t help turn you away from it neither…and it all continues to come back to our relationship with the Word of God. Staying engaged with the Bible is such a vital part of our relationship with God…because it contains all the answers to life…everything we need is found in the Bible…and that includes the truth that God is just as concerned with our motives behind what we do as He is about what it is we’re doing.
We’re almost finished with this series, friends. I hope that this has been helpful to you. My prayer is truly that you are equipped, encouraged, enlightened, and challenged so that your relationship with God will be as intimate as it can be. Thanks so much for your support and for following along, and I hope that you’ll join me for the final message in this series.
Please believe and pray with me that God will lead us to another fantastic series.
Blessings and Grace to you.
Christlike Ministries NWA
“My love be with you all in Christ Jesus.” (1 Cor. 16:24)