God Looks At Motives.
After three and a half years of ministry Jesus there came a time when Jesus started to prepare His disciples for life without Him. He also wanted to warn them that there would be hard times ahead. It's important to know what life can bring so that, for instance, one does not expect to avoid all persecution. For those who love God and truly follow Him, Jesus promised a full and abundant life; but with persecutions.
Jesus did not want anyone who followed Him to do it blindly. He talked of counting the cost just like any ruler thinking of going to war would; or should! So Jesus explains things in Mark, Chapter 8, verses 31-38.
Mark 8:31-38 And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
People can imagine that the godly life after accepting Jesus should be plain sailing! Peter it seems was one of these and he rebuked Jesus for thinking that bad things could happen to the Messiah. He like most of His era still only thought in terms of the “Triumphant Messiah” who would free them from bondage. They ignored the scriptures about the suffering Messiah.
Jesus judged all of this as 'par' for the course, but seeing that the other disciples were taking it in, He had to rebuke Peter in their hearing so that all would realize that He was the one who knew God's plan for Himself and He would carry it out.
In all ages there have been Christians who have suffered and been martyred for their faith in Jesus. God was with them throughout and, knowing that Satan has not yet been removed, we should not take the devil's side and propagate the idea that God's people will not face grave trials.
Having set His disciples straight, Jesus then includes the crowd in His next teaching and what He said applies to us all. Namely that, we have to be aware of our motives when doing things for Christ; indeed at all times.
If we are coming to church, just seeing it as a life insurance policy but with no love for God we may well be disappointed at the final outcome!
If our motive for doing things is to look good in front of the church members, then that may well be our only reward. We could miss out on the eternal things which God has planned to give to true disciples.
If someone's motive for being in church is that they see it as a club which could be useful to them, then they may gain physical blessings but lose out on spiritual blessings God has stored up for His children in our mansions.
We must align our motives with love for God and Jesus, or all our efforts will be worthless regarding the big picture of eternal life with God!
Jesus even gives a direct warning that if we are ashamed to speak up for Him with a pure heart, then He will not acknowledge us to the Father when He returns.
This is stated in a different form in Matthew, Chapter 7, verses 21-23. In this place Jesus said that some will have done all sorts of things which were thought very impressive, but He will have to say that, “He never knew them!”
Mat 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Notice that they worked miracles in the name of Jesus, yet did not have a saving, loving, relationship with Him. If people who work wonders in Christ's name can lose out, consider those people out there who do nothing for Christ, because they don't know Him, yet think they will be saved!
If we are doing things with the wrong motives, Jesus is not even noticing it! He does not know us!
So let's all worship God, in thought word and deed, from a pure heart and with unfeigned love for God.
Best wishes for Grace and the Peace of Jesus.