In the world of acting, an actor must know his or her motivation before saying a line or acting out a scene. For example, “How are you?” could be said with a sarcastic, hateful, or kind motivation. Once a director told an actor, “Walk across the floor, knock on the door, and look at your watch.” The performer asked, “What is my motivation?” The director replied tersely, “Your paycheck.”
Living by the right motivation
Do you realize that many of the right things you do might be for the wrong reason? Take a job for example. We know that Christians should be known for hard, industrious work. Many people get jobs to be responsible supporters of their families. However, this good thing (working for a living) might be done for the wrong reason (selfishness). Look at what the Bible says:
Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. (Ephesians 4:28, NKJV)
Consider this: the godly reason for obtaining an income is so that you can help out people in need. Of course, we realize that the Lord wants us to feed our families and such, but how are we different than others if everything we do is only for our own selves?
The problem of rule-making
Ultimately, we do not do righteousness if we are not doing right things by right motives. Helping someone on the side of the road so you can brag about it later is doing the right thing for the wrong reason. Prayer is a good thing. But you are a wicked person if you pray so others will hear you and think you are spiritual.
The old system, the Law of Moses, did not discuss motives much. It did say, “Do not steal!” but did not suggest an alternative good behavior as the new covenant does (“Get a job”). Aside from replacing bad behavior with commendable actions, the new covenant presents us with the proper motive for doing the right thing: instead of taking, give.
The joy of living by right motives
Once you understand the concept of right motives, difficult moral issues (gray areas) become easy to decide. The underlying motive for us is that we do everything to bring glory to God (I Corinthians 6:20). Additionally, we avoid behavior that would damage others (I Co. 8:9, 12). When you live with strong love for God and others, you will not wish to drive away His Spirit by careless living (Ephesians 4:30).
Why should you tell others the truth? Because we are members of each other (Eph. 4:25). Why do you get over your anger issues right away? Because you do not want the devil getting into your life (Eph. 4:27). Why do you speak positive encouragement? Because you want to empower others (Eph. 4:29). Why do you forgive? Because you are a reflection of Christ who forgave you (Eph. 4:32).
Reexamine the choices you make and what motives drive your actions. Study more about spiritual motivation at life2o.org.