Sunday, September 12, 2010

The What by the Why

Christians are often very active people.
They pray. They sing. They worship (and be CrossImage by Glen's Pics via Flickrsure, worship is not just singing and praying). They witness. They help the needy. The list of what Christians do goes on and on. But the list of why they do these things should be very short.

I heard a preacher state it clearly and succinctly the other day:
"If we are living for the glory of God and the blessings of others, we won't have worry about the fruit of our actions." Our why needs to be the glory of God and the blessings of others. Period.

While the world looks at the what we are doing, God judges the what we do by the why it is done. It is entirely possible to do the right things for all the wrong reasons.

Perhaps I am singing, not only for the glory of God and the blessings of others, but also because I like to hear myself sing. Maybe I do it because I like to have everyone look at me, I like it when they tell me how much they enjoyed my song. (A clue here is if I feel put out if they don't tell me they enjoyed it, then my motive was probably wrong.)

Perhaps I am making a meal for those in need, not only for their blessing, but because I like others to think of me as a thoughtful, kind person. Would I have the same motivation to do this if no one knew the source of the meal?

Perhaps I find myself participating in a particular form of ministry or service because I like the other people involved. There is nothing wrong with liking the people around you, but if that is the primary reason, the motive is wrong. If those people ceased to be a part of that activity, would I still be willing to attend?

I love the old quote, and I don't remember the source, "Reputation is what people see you do, character is what you do when no one is looking." So I must ask myself, why am I doing what I am doing. Is my motive the glory of God and the blessing of others?

I imagine the great and future judgment, when all my works will be piled up to be judged. I am sure I will look upon my pile and see things I am sure will bring forth gold, silver and precious stones after being tried by fire. Most of those surely will be destroyed in a puff of smoke as wood, hay and stubble simply because my motive was not right. A few works and actions, which by my standards, may seem so inconsequential, may turn out to be the most precious of all.

We cannot, we should not, look inside ourselves to test our own motives. The depth of the human soul can be a very dangerous place and self absorption leads to. . .well, self-absorption. Instead, let us pray, as did David:

"Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalms 139:23,24)

It is not our place to convict ourselves of sin. If we submit ourselves to the Lord, the Holy Spirit will convict us of any wrongful motive we have. He will use the Word of the Lord, the fellowship of the saints and His own working in our lives to do so. It is only our place to submit our hearts to such leading.

"The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD'S throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men." (Psalms 11:4)

"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12)

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