The drive behind our actions is often masked by putting on a show to impress onlookers or satisfy the selfish lust of our heart (Jn 12:5,6; Rom 6:12; Gal 5:24; 1 Jn 2:16). Jesus spoke about those who drew attention to the good works they did, for although the actions were admirable, the motive was not pure or based on compassion, rather being self-centered and seeking praise from others. He said the Christian disciplines (such as praying, giving, fasting) should be done without drawing attention to ourselves and not for seeking any reward or praise from others (Mt 6:1-6,16-18). Jesus and the Word of God reveal the thoughts and intents of our hearts exposing us for whom we really are (1 Cor 4:5; Heb 4:12).
Imitate Christ’s example
motive to live by (Lk 6:31; Gal 6:7). Faith, hope and the love of Christ are powerful motivators for everything we do, as we live outwardly focused lives (1 Cor 16:14; 2 Cor 5:14,15; 1 Thes 1:3). This includes giving cheerfully, and not reluctantly, to others and God’s Kingdom (2 Cor 9:7) Living, praying and whatever we do, is to be done with diligence, and with the right motives, to bring glory (honour and praise) to God (1 Cor 10:31; Col 3:17). This includes obeying others as we would obey Christ (Eph 5:1,2, 6:5-8). We should endeavour to make all things serve our God-given purpose. We are encouraged to give ourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because it will be rewarded, and where in the past sin motivated us, now the Spirit should motivate us (Rom 8:5; 1 Cor 15:58; Col 3:23,24).
David expressed his desire to do God’s will (Ps 40:8). Jesus said, “I must be about my Father’s business”. Elsewhere it is written He came to do God’s will (Lk 2:49; Jn 6:38; Heb 10:5-10). How about me – is my life characterised by wholehearted devotion and obedience to Christ who gave His life to rescue me from hell? Judas was motivated by Satan, while Paul said the Spirit compelled him (Jn 13:2; Act 20:22; 1 Cor 9:16). Paul’s inner drive was originally misdirected until His divine encounter, then with a God-given vision, coupled with determination and enthusiasm was prepared to sacrifice whatever it took to accomplish God’s calling on his life (Act 9:1,2,13,15,21; Phil 3:6,12-14).
What is my specific God-given mission in life and am I fulfilling it? Whatever that may be, always be directed by the Scriptures and have the motivation to live a Christian lifestyle, guarding your mind and heart from which life’s directions come (Prov 4:20-27; 1 Thes 4:11,12). We should be praying for, and challenging others that they too will reach their potential in Christ (2 Thes 1:11).
People with self-motivation can find a reason and strength to complete even challenging tasks, without giving up or needing others to encourage them.
What we focus on becomes our experience
seed sown – be it lust leading to sin, or good desire resulting in righteousness (Prov 11:23, 23:7; Mt 5:27,28; Rom 6:11-19). The thoughts we sow and allow to germinate in the fertile condition of our minds, set in motion a principle in the spirit realm which will produce a harvest of actions based on the original concept (Gen 30:37-43; Mt 12:35). Thus, attitudes become a motivating force in our lives, resulting in outward actions. What is stored within causes us to respond and react (Mk 7:20-23). “Everyone who was willing and whose heart moved him...had a mind to work” (Ex 35:21; Neh 4:6). The inner impulse resulted in outer action, and we too should throw off the hindrances, fixing our eyes on Jesus who endured the short-term pain by looking to the future joy of the long-term gain (Heb 12:1,2).
The Lord looks at the inner qualities of the heart, understands the motives behind the thoughts, examines all the paths we take and judges our motives so “Let us examine our ways and test our motives” and catch the vision and heartbeat of Jesus, who said, “Come follow me and I will make you...” (1 Sam 16:7; 1 Chr 28:9; Prov 5:21, 16:2; Lam 3:40; Mt 4:19,20). Those who did this left all and followed Jesus and He made something of their lives far beyond what they could have imagined or achieve without Him and the Holy Spirit’s power. What a good prayer, “Turn my life away from worthless things, renew me in your way” (Ps 119:37).
“Seek good, not evil” – the motivating desires of our hearts should reflect the qualities of God’s righteous Kingdom (Amos 5:14,15). We need to rid our lives of wrong motives, the underlying reason, so we don’t act in a foolish way that bring undesirable consequences for ourselves or others.
What is my inner drive?
our own lives. Do you sense the intense passion and desire of the writer, when he said, “I will seek you with my whole heart... I have chosen...To do your will is my desire…I have set...that I might live in the house of the Lord forever” (Ps 23:6, 27:4, 40:8, 119:10,30). The promise is if we sincerely seek God, we will find Him and He will give divine motivation and an undivided heart (Jer 29:10-14, 32:39; Ezek 11:19,20).
Our actions reveal our motives – including the various areas in which we are vulnerable to temptation (Jas 1:13-15). A strong motivation to get rich is the start of a treacherous pathway (1 Tim 6:9,10; Heb 13:5). Wrong, selfish motives unfortunately govern much of our lives, wanting to be ministered to by circumstances and others rather than them being opportunities to share the grace and nature of Christ with others (Mk 10:45; Jas 4:1-3).