I’ve been on this diet for two weeks now, and it’s been the worst two, grilled cheeseless (except for one, because of my lack of discipline) weeks of my life. I started a diet, because I thought I may be able to magically lose 15 pounds by this week since I’m going to the beach. I’m not dieting to be healthy. In all honesty, I couldn’t care less about that right now. I’m dieting so I can lose weight and have that instant self-gratification. That’s a good motive, right? No wonder I cannot stick to a diet, when it is all about the results for me.
I look at that and can relate all too well in my spiritual life. How can I relate dieting with my spiritual life and the way I serve God? That seems like a stretch. I know. But, I have to look at the why’s behind the things I’m doing in my spiritual walk. Because if I don’t and I’m not careful, my motives, just like my dieting motives, may be to have that same self-gratification. It seems, that if not kept in check, all of my motives, all of my desires turn back to focus on myself.
Sometimes, I find myself serving for good reasons, or what the world would see as good reasons. I’ll serve because I know that someone is depending on me, and I don’t want to let them down. Or I’ll serve because I love the kids. And don’t get me wrong, you should love the kids or the youth or singing in the choir or whatever area you’re serving in, but our motive behind it all should be to serve the living God, because He is God. Because He deserves it. Our motive should always be to glorify Him in what we are doing. Even if our motive seems “good”, is it really?
Last week, I listened to a sermon called “Ten Shekels and a Shirt” by Paris Reidhead. In it, he asked a tough question. “Is God a mean or an end for you?” Sometimes, I have found myself serving God for his benefits. I know if I do what I’m supposed to do, read my bible, pray, serve Him, he will bless me. And by saying God will bless me, I haven’t always been thinking about monetary blessing or blessing of more possessions or more friends or more status or whatever else. Sometimes what I have had in mind would be considered noble. For instance, God will bless me with His peace, His wisdom, His love for people, self-control, patience, etc. — which are all Godly gifts of the spirit and unattainable without God, but in those times, I have found that I am serving God for those things, rather than serving God to glorify Him and serving Him because He’s God and He deserves it. In those times, God is simply a means to my end. He is my avenue of gaining all of those considerably noble qualities, when in reality He should ALWAYS be my END. I should do everything in pursuit of Him, not in pursuit of His gifts, benefits, or qualities. Now, God is a good God. And yes, the closer to Him I get, the more I will desire to be like him and exude those qualities above. “You will recognize them by their fruits…” – Matthew 7:16. But should that be WHY I serve and pursue God?
I’ve even, as silly as it seems, done something to “serve” God because in my head I thought “well if I don’t, I don’t know who else will.” Just a big FYI, God does not need me to fulfill His plans. He also does not have to use me, but He chooses to. He chooses to allow me to be a part of His good and perfect plan. “Nor is He served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” – Acts 17:25.
And please don’t get me wrong, your service is SO important. The church would not be able to run if it was not for the people who give their time, energy, and efforts. And I firmly believe that God will use all service for His good. But in saying all of this, I simply want to encourage you to be aware of or even reevaluate the motives behind your service.
“…whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ…” – 1 Peter 4:11
Therefore, let us serve and pursue God that in all things He may be glorified. Think about the motives behind the things you do, and be honest with yourself. Are you serving for self gratification? Are you serving for God’s benefits? Are you serving to be with your friends or because you think it’s fun? Are you serving and pursuing Him simply because that’s what your parents did or how you were raised? Or are you serving Him in order that He would be glorified?