Day 6: What's My Motivation

Paper Tigers & Impressing God

A Write 31 Days Series

Part of trying to figure out the issue of impressing God leads me to examine motivation.  I have been trying to examine why I do things.  Why do I serve God?  Why do I sacrifice time and money for Him?  Sometimes I don’t like my answers to these questions.

The most frustrating thing is that I can’t figure out what the correct answers are.  My humanity can let even the most canned Sunday school answers turn self-serving.

I want to serve for the right reasons, and I want my offering of time and money to be pure.  Is that even possible?

Maybe I should just take on Paul’s attitude of “what does it matter” in Philippines 1.

Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.
— Philippians 1:15-18 ESV

I posted this idea about motivations on my Instagram, and my sister-in-law Anna Clement commented this, “I struggle with this too.  Especially when I’m burnt out with the people I am serving.  My efforts feel pretty vain when inside I’m thinking, ‘I don’t even like these people right now!’  In those times I try to be honest with God since He already knows my heart.  Sometimes He tells me to just stop and let Him bring me back in tune with His Spirit before moving ahead.”

Being honest with God is so simple, but sometimes it is hard for me.  If I’m trying to impress God, I don’t want to say something to Him that I know He’s not going to like, even if I know deep down that He already knows what I’m feeling and thinking.

As humans with a nature to sin, it is impossible to have our motivations pure all of the time.  We cannot share the gospel and serve others always in truth, good will, grace, and love.  We can try, but we will never do it perfectly.

Paul says in Philippians that the gospel is proclaimed every single, stinking way that it is preached.  If it is out of good motivations or bad, either way, Paul says that he rejoices that the gospel is advanced.

God can use your serving Him, even when it is done with bad motivation.

We continue to please God in all that we do and advance the Gospel, even when our heart isn’t right.  Because truth be told, if we stop and start analyzing our motivations, they are never going to look right.

Let us do our best to serve in truth, good will, grace, and love, but as we fall short, because we will fall short, keep advancing the gospel.

Looking back at my service to Him over the last few years, I see it steeped in wanting to impress God.  God used my service anyway.  I can see that the gospel was advance, even when my motivations smelled yucky.

I thank God that He is teaching me to stop trying to impress Him.  I am so thankful He is showing me how much He loves me, no matter what.

Knowing this motivates me to serve Him more.


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I like to share a song with each blog post because music makes me happy.  Jack White is the best guitarist of my generation, and even when he's covering a borderline silly song, he's genius.