Have you ever done the right thing for the wrong reason? You did the right thing, but it was to make your children or your spouse proud; or maybe it was to impress a coworker or maybe even a fellow church member. Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, made it clear. Motives matter. If you give alms to receive the praise of men, you have already received your reward.
Our motive should be the desire to be like Jesus. That is such a lofty goal and we are so far from obtaining it, we could become discouraged. But there is hope to be found in Jeremiah 9:23-24. “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice and righteousness in the earth; for in these things I delight says the Lord.”
That’s the goal and yes it is certainly lofty, but there are some hints there as to how to obtain it. If we concentrate less on what we know, who we are, and what we have and concentrate more on who He is, what He has done, and what He is going to do, just maybe we can “press on toward the goal of the call of God in Christ Jesus.”
There is a secondary motive worth remembering. We do not want to bring shame on our Lord or His church. There are two indisputable facts. The first fact is that everything Christians do reflects on our Lord and His church. Have you ever watched a particularly obnoxious driver in traffic and thought, “If he is going to drive like that I wish he would remove the fish sign from the back of his car”? The second fact is that the world is watching and for the most part wants us to fail. The news media loves to report the failures of Christian leaders. We must live our lives recognizing the fact that we represent our Lord and His church. Peter tells us in his first letter: “Maintain good conduct among the Gentiles, so that in case they speak against you as wrongdoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” I Peter 2:12
Certainly our primary goal is to know and understand God. To know His perfect will and do it perfectly. But as we struggle on the path to that level of perfection, let us strive to never dishonor the Lord whose name we wear.