Wednesday, March 11, 2015

What's Your Motive For Serving God?

by Jill Jackson

Christ said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). In an ideal world, those in the Lord’s body would be people who are drawn to worship the Creator because they love Him and want to please Him. If all people loved God with all their hearts and souls, then all who wear the name of Christ would obey His commands without reluctance or hesitation. In an ideal world, all Christians would serve God because they treasure the relationship they share with the Father, value the gift of life they have received through Christ, and cling to the hope of heaven.

But sadly, the reality is people are motivated to “serve” God for a lot of reasons, many of which are the wrong reasons. People can attend every worship service yet be spiritually empty. Many “serve” God for a lot of reasons, yet have no genuine love for Him or intention of obeying His commands. Presence of body in the house of God truly doesn’t equate presence of heart.

Some people “serve” God because they recognize the alternative. They’re not without belief. They believe there’s a Creator of the world (Genesis 1:1, Hebrews 3:4). They recognize there is an eternal life to come. They know they’ll be judged for their actions (2 Corinthians 5:10). And they fear eternal punishment, so they serve God. Avoiding eternity in hell is the motive behind their service instead of, as the Psalmist said, a delight to do His will because God’s law is within the heart (Psalm 40:8).

Some people “serve” God because of family associations. They have generations of Christians in their family, and they merely follow suit. They’ve always gone to church. Perhaps they can’t imagine not going to church and feel they benefit from it to some degree, but the driving force behind going is simply a routine. The church environment affects them in the church building, but after exiting through the doors they fail to stand out from the world (Romans 12:2). Church is what they do, but it’s not necessarily who they are. Habit is the motive behind their service instead of, as Paul said, one who is walking “in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him” (Colossians 1:10).

Some people “serve” God because of obligation. Some people have family who do in fact have a deep devotion to God. Because of their love for their family, and perhaps the blessings they receive from those familial relationships, they walk in line so as not to upset the apple cart. Serving God is not motivated from a pureness in heart, but from a selfishness of what could be lost if they don’t keep their family happy (1 Peter 1:22).

Some “serve” God because attending worship services is their means of relieving their guilt for their transgressions—many of which they’ll plan ahead of time. “Guilt-goers” make little effort to live a righteous life. Sermons don’t penetrate the heart. But showing up and feeling sorry for whatever at that moment, wipes the slate clean in their mind, despite the fact there’s no intent to change. Showing up for worship services is not the Lord’s Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Assembling with the saints is not equal to repentance. When John the baptist preached in the wilderness of Judea he said, “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8). Repentance requires more than a fleeting thought of sorrow. It requires a genuine change of heart that reflects willful change following—to bear fruit or actions that demonstrate a recognition of wrong and a desire to change one’s life in such a way to live for God and not self.

Presence of body truly doesn’t equate presence of heart. Christ said love for God should engage our emotions, intellect and dominate our lives (Deuteronomy 6:4). The next time you walk through the doors of your congregation and take a seat on the pew, check your motives for being in the house of God. Are you serving Him for the wrong reasons? When it comes to serving God, the only motive we should have within our hearts, is to please the Father. We should be compelled to live according to His purpose and laws because He loved us like no other could—because that love compelled Him to send his Son for us. Because in the blood of His precious Son, we have life (1 John 1:7).

Recommended Reading

Jackson, Jason. Psalm 139 — A Magnificent Portrait of God.
Jackson, Wayne. Why Humanity Should Serve God.

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