On a dreary late autumn Sunday morning Pastor Brad warmly welcomed us, as is his custom. Today he would be presenting the fourth and last message in this current series on his theme "living for the sake of the call." What is the motivation that keeps us in the game?
Darlene transitioned us into worship with a beautiful introit. The Scripture reading after worship and an offering was Matthew 22:34-46. Brad led us in a time of prayer and then began his message.
The Right Motivation
Why is it that the life expectancy for women is so much longer than for men? Brad told a few amusing stories about risky things he's observed men do and got a laugh by answering with the statement, "Because men are dumber."
After the anticipated laugh we moved into the real question he wanted to ponder. Why do some servants in the family of God have a longer service life than others? Some become intensely motivated very quickly but in a year their passion for service has cooled significantly. Why do some remain faithful over time and others lose their drive?
The key is being motivated by the right fuel, God's mercy.
Brad shared a story to illustrate how love is a strong motivation than doing the right thing "because dad told me to." When we're kids that may work for a while, but not for a lifetime. Only one motivation is sufficient for the full distance of a lifetime: the Cross.
Paul sets this out in Romans 12:1 where he notes that in light of what God has done for us, our only sensible and appropriate response is to consecrate our lives to God.
Hebrews 13:16 contains another secret of the enduring life of service. "And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." Doing nice things that other people do not expect, this pleases God. People who are in it for the long haul do it for God's approval. If you do things in the hopes of being stroked in return there will be two ways you can lose. First, if people are indifferent you'll be disappointed. The other response is equally troublesome, when we use our gifts to get attention and become addicted to the praise.
Are we serving for the applause of others? Do you serve to meet a need or to get some kind of praise in return? The smile of God should be our only aim. Use your gifts without the need to draw attention to yourself.
At this point we have learned that the fuel for a long life of service is the right motivation, and living for an audience of One.
In Matthew 19:27-29 Jesus addresses another matter relating to our motivations.
27 Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”
28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.
Peter's question has undoubtedly been voice by many of us in one form or another as we've sought to follow Jesus. Why have we sacrificed so much? Jesus affirms that whatever sacrifices we've made, it will be worth it in the end. Knowing this and believing it are a strong support through the hard times.
Brad told a story about playing basketball without a hoop. It can be fun, but it's not long before you know that you really do need a goal. And the more inviting the goal, the more we're willing to sacrifice to get there.
Who applause are you serving for?
There are many martyrs in the New Testament, and millions more throughout church history.