Motives are very important. I can do the exact same action for different reasons. For instance, I love football and have watched hundreds of games. Every one of my children have had to learn the hard way, after being scared to death, that Mommy yells loudly during OU games. I have watched football for the sheer joy of the game, but a few times I have watched terrible football (if you can call it football because it looks nothing like it) because my son is playing and I am only showing support for him (because 5th grade tackle football is not football). So one game I love the action and the other I love my son.
Some of my favorite bible verses speak on this very thing. I am fascinated how God cares about why we do what we do. God doesn’t want a robot that just follows rules. We shouldn’t be more in love with the rules than the object and purpose of them. We are called to obey for the right reasons, out of love.
In fact we can do amazing things and they will amount to nothing if we don’t do them in love. That is crazy! When I imagine moving mountains with faith, that can’t be wrong, can it? But then I see–no it isn’t wrong, it is just ineffective. Wow, that is not what I want to hear, that my life is a waste in this world. I don’t want to be a clanging gong, just noise with no impact.
And then there are all the verses in the Old Testament (which is all based on a sacrificial system) that condemn just doing the sacrifice without loving and in turn obeying God. Just sacrifices without the motive of loving God doesn’t delight God and why else would you do a sacrifice? A sacrifice is ugly, bloody, weird, and it costs you something. If it didn’t please God we wouldn’t do it at all. So it should stop us in our tracks to hear that God isn’t happy with what we are doing.
For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. – Hos 6:6 ESV
And Samuel said, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. – 1Sa 15:22 ESV
Yet we do make him happy through a sacrifice, with the perfect motive. In the New Testament we hear that WE are the “aroma of Christ!” That is overwhelming to me because the aroma is in reference to the aroma of sacrifices in the Old Testament –which pleased God.
Every native Israelite shall do these things in this way, in offering a food offering, with a pleasing aroma to the LORD. – Num 15:13 ESV
For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, – 2Co 2:15 ESV
Jesus’ perfect sacrifice with the perfect motive is what saves us and inspires us. Therefore, if we do extraordinary things without love for God, it doesn’t mean anything, because it is nowhere close to imitating Jesus.
So if this is true, the opposite will also be true. We can do small, normal things with love and they will amount to much! That is hard for me to believe. I want to do life changing things for God. I want my life to make a mark in this world that shows how important Jesus is to everyone. Can this be done with the mundane? Yes, God’s ways are often upside down. I mean I forget that Jesus was a carpenter until his 30s. He wasn’t rich or well resourced. Yes he spoke to crowds, but much of his teaching was to 12 men who didn’t have a clue (and one left the ministry). God asks for us to do things with love because of our love for Him, and that makes it successful. My day of snotty noses and encouragement to other struggling moms can be very impactful, if done out of my love for Christ.
I often have to look at my own motives to see if I am doing them for the right audience. Am I looking for the praise of others or reacting to my love for God. One way I judge this is ask myself “Would I do this if no one knew?” or “Am I looking forward to what others will say about me when I accomplish this task?” And the answer sometimes unfortunately is, yes I am thinking about what others think. I want others to think I am a nice person and praise me instead of Jesus. This is so short sighted because ultimately I don’t trust my Father when He says his love is sufficient. I don’t need to worry about making sure I am loved–I am loved already.
I guess one way to look at it is, are you wanting what you do to only be for this life–the funeral–or are you wanting it to be forever? That’s just the difference! Living for a funeral is all about self love. But living for forever is about loving God and in turn loving others.
LOVE….how do I do things with love?
Love is shown in action, but comes from inside. But what actions? 1 Cor tells us the actions can be great and not prove love. So the size of the action does not matter….it is only the presence of action.
An action can be rooted in self love or God centered love. Those are the only two options. So the root of the love is more important than the size of the action.
So again how do I do things in love? It really is easy but I act like it is a complicated process…like exercise simply makes you healthier not some great mystery that no one has discovered. By spending time speaking to and learning about God, I find loving God is natural. My heart longs to know Him more the more time I spend with Him. And when I focus on Him I love others in a pure way, for the right motive, period. I honestly don’t have to stress about my motive. So do what you need to have that eternal perspective.
Crank up a praise song while cooking, pray for your child as you fold their laundry (or toss it in a basket, I don’t know why we have dressers), listen to an audio bible while driving–whatever works. Then we will do more “small things with great love” as Mother Teresa said.
So just cremate me and don’t talk about me at my funeral. I won’t be listening anyway. I will be too busy cheering for my God, louder than OU football if you can imagine.