December 3, 2009


Most people don’t like talking about what motivates them. Perhaps we don’t like to think about the driving force behind our words and actions. Maybe most of what we do is selfish and we either do not recognize it, or don’t want to admit it.

Today’s devotional reading is titled, “What makes you tick?” and refers to the following verses about the Apostle Paul.

I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, (Colossians 1:24-25)
Paul was given a ministry by God and was willing to suffer that his ministry was fulfilled. He was highly motivated to “fulfill the word of God” that had been given him. The comments challenge readers with questions like “What motivates you? What takes all your energy, dominates your time, and makes you tick?”

Of course, for Paul, it was the progress of the gospel. He wasn’t concerned about his body, his life, or even his reputation. In Acts 20:24 he said, “Nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus.”

This man yielded everything including possessions, recognition, reputation, and prestige to this one goal: preaching the Word of God. He even said, “woe is me if I do not preach the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:16). Jesus told him to do it, and he determined to do what he was told.

The devotional writer says Paul is a model for every Christian and focuses on his calling. While I know all Christians should share Christ with others, I’m hesitant about copying the calling of God on someone else’s life and trying to make it my own. Paul was called to preach to the Gentiles while Peter was sent to the Jews (Galatians 2:7). Do I copy them? If so, which one?

Both Peter and Paul obeyed and loved God. That is my model. So also is their godliness and willingness to serve, but I have never been called to preach like they were.

Instead, I believe that all Christians are called to love God and do what He says, but is the doing part the same for everyone? I don’t think so. Some are called to teach, or be givers, or do the work of administration. There are other ways to share the gospel message besides preaching. Each person has to listen to the Holy Spirit and do what we are told.

Scripture is clear that there are only two motivations for doing things. One is the Holy Spirit directing His people, and the other is my selfish fleshy nature which has ideas of its own. A favorite passage helps me know which is which:

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:12-13)
I make mistakes, sometimes follow the wrong motivation, but can depend on the Word of God to discern my intentions and let me know what I should be doing and should not be doing. I cannot hide anything from Him.

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