December 28, 2012

What makes me tick?

The shooting in Connecticut raises the question of what makes people do what they do? While no one can get into the minds of others, we can understand what drives someone else if we have similar motivations or have at least thought of doing the same things.

Last Sunday I heard a sermon about motivation, the first one I can remember on that topic. Even though it was delivered with grace, I felt a little uncomfortable. Is that because I don’t want anyone to know what makes me do what I do? I’m not sure.

Being challenged about my motivations must be a good thing because God challenges me often on this topic. I’m to be motivated by love, just as the sermon indicated, but Jesus had lots to say about other motivations, for instance, money.

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. (Matthew 6:24)

While some intend with their resources for good, the Bible warns that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils” (1 Timothy 6:10). It can be the means by which we satisfy our desires, gain power, or become well-known and well-liked. These motivations go deeper and God warns me about them too.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. (1 John 2:15–16)

To those who respond to Jesus in faith, He offers a different way of life. He gives us new motivations along with a new citizenship. Because of that, we find ourselves aliens in this world.

If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (John 15:19)

This is not very comfortable. Humanly, we want to be friends with everyone, not rejected because we love Jesus and belong to His kingdom. Not only that, as a Christian how do I respond to God’s command to love others when they hate me? How can I love people without getting involved in the things that motivate them? Why is being separate from the world so important to God and so difficult for His people? We live here. This is not an easy assignment.

Today’s devotional verses add a further warning to show that this is no small command. Instead, it is vital in my relationship with the Lord.

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the Spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:4–7)

The devotional writer says that being friends with the world is like ivy growing on an oak tree. The ivy may give the oak a beautiful appearance, but is actually feeding on its vitals. This is what the world can do to me. These verses also suggest that the devil is behind this motivation.

I have to ask myself if I am compromising with this enemy. Am I motivated by the world? By its honors? Its pleasures? Its applause? Those things might add to my appearance in the world’s estimation, but they suck away my spiritual strength.

Other examples come to mind: the desire to be smartest or the best, one-upmanship, quick answers or the desire to be noticed by what clothes and accessories I select, how and when I talk, what I do or don’t do. These are convicting and conviction is why most of us are not excited to talk or even think about what makes us tick. Yet there is an alternative…

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

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