|Posted on October 17, 2019 at 2:25 PM|
Have you ever noticed that God is not as concerned about what we do as he is why we do it? This may come as a shock to many, but God is not impressed with our performance in any way. According to the apostle Paul what we do or do not do doesn’t count with God at all (Galatians 5: 6). What he is looking for in us is not our performance, but our faith that is expressed in love for others. And because he reads our hearts like an open book, he is well aware of our motivations at any given time. In fact, it is our motivation that determines whether our behavior (verbal and non-verbal) is acceptable to God.
A life that is healthy and pleasing to God is motivated by faith rather than fear, hope rather than guilt, and love rather than pride. Everything that we say or do may be classified as healthy or unhealthy based on the motive behind it. Unhealthy behavior is motivated by fear, guilt, and pride whereas healthy behavior is motivated by faith, hope, and love. In the relational world I refer to unhealthy behavior as manipulation and healthy behavior as ministry. But the only difference between manipulation and ministry is motive.
We can do and say the exact same things for two different reasons. I can give my wife flowers and tell her that I love her because I am motivated by genuine love based on faith in who God has made me to be, or I can give her flowers and tell her that I love her in order to manipulate her to give me what I am afraid I won’t get otherwise. One is selfless behavior of ministry the other is selfish behavior of manipulation. What makes the difference is the motive. This is why God doesn’t just look at our behavior, but examines the motives underlying that behavior.
The true sign of spiritual maturity in Christ is healthy behavior motivated by love. While all believers have the potential to love others like Christ because they are born of God, not all realize that potential because they have not yet “known” God. John states, “he that loves not knows not God; for God is love” (1 John 4: 8). Knowing God in the sense John is talking about is much more than simply knowing about God. It is the experiential knowledge of an intimate and personal relationship with God when our faith in who God has made us to be produces the hope, we need to truly love others like Christ. Knowing God like John describes is the experience of God’s overflowing love shared with others.
The motivation required for spiritual maturity and a healthy lifestyle of ministry is said to be the fruit of the indwelling Spirit of God. When we trust in who God said he has has made us to be we experience the hope regardless of our natural circumstances. That hope frees us to be able to consider others around us and express the love of God in all that we do or say. Being honest with God about our natural false motivations of fear, guilt, and pride we can be sure the Spirit will replace them with faith, hope, and love. That spiritual motivation is what makes what we say and do acceptable and pleasing to God as we model the life of his son, Jesus.