One of the most irritating phases that children go through in their early toddler years is the “Why??” phase. I can attest that it gets very old, very quickly. Whenever my kids tried to play this game with me I usually chose the typical parental response- “Because I said so”. Unknowingly I was hindering their growth in critical thinking and cognitive reasoning skills. They mentally needed to know why things happened the way they did, why they needed to do certain things, and why they needed to stay away from things that would hurt them. It wasn’t their rebellious hearts questioning authority as much as a natural developmental skill they needed to grow in. (They’re all doing fine so I think it’s safe to say that no long-term damage has occurred.)
The same is true in our spiritual growth. We know what we are supposed to do- ministry, but we also need to know why we should do it- motivation.
- For your own glory. Proverbs 25:27, Galatians 5:26, Jeremiah 9:23-24. So how do we know if we are motivated by self-glory? Do we do it for the praise of men instead of the praise of God? Do we like to hear our name among the faithful servants? Do we inwardly feel slighted or angry when we don’t get the credit we feel is due to us for the ministry we are involved in, or the service we have put in? Do we boast about our accomplishments? Philippians 2:3~ Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves
- To please people. Galatians 1:10, Ephesians 6:5-8, Colossians 3:22-25, James 4:4. Are you serving because someone expects you to or to have their approval? 1Thessalonians 2:4~But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.
What happens with works done with the wrong motivation? Read 1Corinthians 3. There were certain people within the church at Corinth who had the wrong motivation for serving the Lord. They were carnal, fleshly, acting like immature babies. Paul shows us in this passage that none of us has any reason to get glory for the fruit we have in our lives, or the ministry he allows us to have. God gives the increase, and God gets the glory. If we steal that glory from God, we lose the reward in heaven. If you are living for your own glory, everything you do is going to be burnt up on the judgment day. It’s all for naught, worthless and wasted time.
- For God’s glory. In 1Corinthians 10:31 we are instructed that every single thing we do we are to do for God’s glory. What does it mean to glorify God? To bring Him praise, adoration, worship, thanks, and honor. To lift Him up as the supreme source, sufficiency, security, satisfaction, and salvation. When God allows us to be used by Him, and people get saved, or lives are transformed, people are edified and encouraged not so we can be elevated, but so that Christ can be exalted. He is the only one who deserves the glory. It’s very easy to fall into the trap that Satan has laid for us to be like him and steal God’s glory, but with a renewed mind, we can have the right motivation to serve the Lord. Psalm 115:1, Isaiah 43:7, 1Peter 4:11.
- Because You Love Him. Love for our Savior should compel us to sacrifice our lives and serve Him with our whole hearts. We need to follow Jesus’ example in everything we do. Matthew 26:36-46 records Jesus’ agony in the garden of Gethsemane before His betrayal and arrest. He knew what He was facing, and He knew how excruciating it was going to be to go to the cross, to die in our place. To be punished for sins He didn’t commit, to be tortured for things He didn’t say, to take on the burden of the entire world. The sacrifices we have to make and the pain we have to go through to minister are nothing compared to what Jesus went through for us. Put things into perspective. You should give all for your King because He gave all for you. He’s a good God and He loves you, show your love for Him by serving Him however He asks you to for His glory alone.
- Because He is Worthy! Revelation 4:11 says “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and hour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. Jesus is worthy of our worship, love, devotion, service, sacrifice, and anything else you can think of. He is worthy!
So why do you do what you do? What is your motivation for ministry? If it’s anything other than for God’s glory, because you love him, and he is worthy- repent! Spend time in these scriptures, allow God to renew your mind and replace your wrong motivations with right ones.
~Colossians 3:23-24~ And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.