What Prompts You?

by Eric Kreye

One evening at the conclusion of a concert, two ushers were applauding harder than anyone else in the place. People nearby smiled until one of the ushers stopped and the other was heard to say, "Keep clapping, one more encore and we'll be on overtime!"

Motive--why do we do what we do?

One day while Jesus and His disciples were in the temple at Jerusalem, they observed different people coming by and placing an offering in a special container.

Of course, the rich made sure they were noticed! Jesus saw it all but He made no comment.

About that time a poor widow came by and very quietly dropped in a very small offering, hardly noticeable among all the magnificent gifts of the well-to-do.

Jesus was delighted, and He smiled. But as the rich swept by in their costly robes, this poor woman tried to quickly withdraw. However, Jesus saw her and read her heart. He knew that she had given all she had, and He accepted her gift of love.

At the precise moment when she gave her love offering, she noticed Jesus and saw His smile of approval. Her heart was warmed as she heard Him say:

"...this poor widow has put in more
than all those who have given to the treasury;
for they all put in out of their abundance,
but she out of her poverty
put in all that she had,
her whole livelihood."
--Mark 12:43, 44

Tears filled the woman's eyes. Someone understood and appreciated her sacrifice! Her gift was an honor to God, and Christ accepted her love and blessed her.

It wasn't the amount of her offering that counted with God, but the motive that generated this deed of love.

It is the motive that gives character and meaning to the act. A heart of faith and love is dearer to God than the most costly gift that could ever be given!

When Jesus was on earth He ran into people who felt sure of their salvation because of the good things they did. Sadly, by their own efforts they came up with a whole list of requirements that in reality became a terrible burden.

The Pharisees of Jesus' time felt it was wrong on the Sabbath day:

--To tie or loosen a knot.
--To write as much as two letters of the alphabet.
--To light or extinguish a fire.
--To use a mirror.
--To eat an egg that was laid on the Sabbath.
--To spit on the ground because a blade of grass might thus be irrigated.

The list goes on and on...

Why do we do what we do?

Why do we keep God's day holy? Just to earn brownie points with Him?

Why do we return a tithe of our income to God? Do we have the sincere motive of love the widow demonstrated? Or are we more concerned about being seen by others, or perhaps to claim an IRS deduction?

In our appearance, are we dressing to draw attention to ourselves? Or is our desire to attract others to Jesus by our Christian beauty and simplicity?

What about diet--the things we eat and drink? Are we careful in what we eat only because we want to look good? Or because we want to lose weight and avoid high-risk illnesses?

Notice the counsel Paul gave to the Corinthian church:

"So, whether you eat or drink,
or whatever you do,
do all to the glory of God."
--1 Corinthians 10:31

Why do we study God's Word and pray on a daily basis? Is it a magic formula to gain entrance to heaven? Are we putting in time because it is required? Do we spend time reading God's Word to prove others wrong and ourselves right and thereby advance our own opinion? Or do we look forward each morning to our devotional time with God because we want to know Him better and become like Him in character?

Why are we helpful to those in need? To be seen of men? The Bible recommends:

"And whatever you do, do it heartily,
as to the Lord and not to men."
--Colossians 3:23

By the way, can I tell what your motives are? Or can you tell what mine are? Not likely. But Someone knows why we do what we do.

I came across this quote that really speaks to my heart, from the book Gospel Workers, page 275 (author Ellen G. White):

"Many acts which pass for good works, even deeds of benevolence, will, when closely investigated be found to be prompted by wrong motives.... The Searcher of hearts weighs the motives, and often deeds highly applauded by men are recorded by Him as springing from selfishness and base hypocrisy."

Why do we do what we do? Let's be honest, are we serving God for the right reasons?

Recently I read this parable (adapted from the book Love God and Do As You Please, by Morris Venden) and found it very helpful. I hope it will be a blessing and help to you too. It is based on Romans 7:1-6.

Everyone respected Lawrence. All who knew him thought that he had it altogether.

Christina was sure that their marriage would be one that was made in heaven. She had spent some time in getting acquainted with Lawrence and she recognized that he had many fine qualities. She had learned to appreciate him but she did not exactly love him--she thought that love would come later as they spent more time together.

The day of the wedding arrived. When the soft music began to play and the time came for Christina to walk up to the altar, to make her public commitment to Lawrence, she went forward eagerly. She was confident that she had made the right choice.

She promised to remain faithful to Lawrence until death would part them.

She was so happy and looked forward to the future. But even before the honeymoon was over there were misunderstandings.

Christina found that her husband's idea of fun and her idea of fun were miles apart. They didn't enjoy doing the same things at all.

It didn't take long for Christina to be impatient with Lawrence. He didn't seem to be the least bit tolerant and seemed totally unmoveable.

Soon she gave up trying. It was apparent that he would never see things her way. He refused to compromise, no matter how unimportant the issue.

When they moved into their new home, their problems multiplied. Lawrence expected the house to be spotless. If there was a particle of dust on the coffee table, or if the meals were not served promptly, Christina felt Lawrence was not pleased.

To make matters worse, she felt he was judging not only her outward behavior but her inward motives as well.

The young bride tried her very best to please her husband.

Day after day when she got up in the morning she determined that the new day would bring a change and that Lawrence would be pleased with her. At times she thought she had finally made the grade, only to be pulled down again in discouragement.

While she was making every effort to do things just right in one area of her life, something else would be neglected. There were times when all her best efforts ended in total disaster. In her nervousness in trying to be perfect, she dropped things and spilled things all over the place.

At times Christina became so discouraged, she didn't even care. She would go rashly through the day doing exactly as she pleased. She took an almost devilish delight in leaving stuff all over the floor, dishes in the sink, and she sat in front of the TV eating chocolates and potato chips by the handful.

No matter what approach she tried, there was a growing impression of how far short she fell of coming up to her husband's ideal. She thought she could feel his condemning and accusing eyes upon her from early morning till late at night.

One night, as she lay quietly in bed, she felt that she could not stand it another day. Lawrence, who had seemed so worthy of respect and honor at their marriage, now seemed domineering, stern, hard to please. She could never measure up to his requirements, even if she lived to be a hundred years old.

She thought of her dream of a happy marriage. If only she had married someone else. In her mind she pictured what it would be like to be married to someone who was appreciative and loving, someone who cared for her as a person.

The words "till death do us part" were still vivid in her memory. Suddenly she had an idea. She could kill herself. At least it would release her from the terrible condemnation and guilt she felt all the time, especially when in his presence.

To her dismay she could not get up the courage to go through with it.

In utter despair, realizing that there was nothing she could do to untangle herself, she cried out to God, "Please get me out of this awful mess. You are the One who has to do it all--I give up."

For the first time in many months Christina felt at peace--and she quickly fell asleep.

When she awakened the next morning something seemed different, Lawrence was there near her and he had tears in his eyes. Instead of rushing to the kitchen, she began her day by speaking lovingly to Lawrence. She saw how kind he was, that he really did love her.

Christina began to relax. She found herself singing as she headed toward the kitchen. She could hardly wait to be with him. He loved her, no matter what her mistakes and shortcomings were.

As the days went by, Christina carefully planned to spend special time with her husband. The more loved and accepted she felt, the less worried she was about her peformance and the fewer mistakes she made. Somehow her husband's wishes didn't seem so unreasonable as before.

All of a sudden it dawned on Christina that her whole relationship to Lawrence had changed dramatically. She now loved him. Not only did she find pleasure in pleasing him, but her tastes and inclinations had also changed. She now loved the things that he loved.

Friend, do you understand what this parable is saying about our relationship with Jesus? When we are in love with Him, we have just one desire--to please Him. Wouldn't you agree? When we truly love God, then His requirements are no longer a burden, but a joy! The things we formerly loved--the pleasures, the sins--hold no more special attraction.

We want to please God because we love Him very much. What He asks us to do is no longer a duty but is pure delight!

When we love Him, we are eager to do
what makes Him happy.

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