WHAT IS YOUR MOTIVE?
When the Lord Jesus was on this earth, He was almost always surrounded by people. Sometimes, Jesus and the disciples did not have time even to eat. But, were all those who crowded around Jesus true followers of Jesus? No, it does not seem so. People followed Jesus for varied reasons (Jn.6:26).
It was the morning following the feeding of the 5000 with five loaves and two fish. The people finally found Him on the other side of the sea and asked Him, “Rabbi, when did You come here?” Jesus' reply is very interesting. He said, “Most assuredly I say to you, you seek Me not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.” No one can fool God. He knows even the thoughts and intents of your hearts. Jesus added an admonition too, “Do not labour for the food which perishes, but for food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you” (Jn.6:27). Even this did not prevent people from following Him for the wrong reasons!
Obviously, the motive of the above group was free food. A good majority of those who followed Jesus wanted healing for their bodily ailments. There were lepers, blind men, paralytics, a woman with flow of blood, and many, many more. Jairus came to Jesus for his daughter's life, the rich young ruler wanted to know the way to eternal life, Zacchaeus 'sought' to see who Jesus was. The legion-possessed man wanted the evil spirits in him to be cast out. The widow of Nain wanted her dead son to be raised. There were also spies who came to Jesus; they pretended to be righteous that they might seize Him on His words (Lk.20:20).
The interesting thing is that all these people got what they wanted. The only person who returned from Jesus disappointed was the rich young ruler. He sought the right thing – way to eternal life; but was disappointed because he was unwilling to pay the price. Everyone who came to Him for healing was healed. Those who came for eternal life got that. Peter followed Him because He had the words of eternal life. The twelve believed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God. (Of course, one of the twelve was a devil.) Jesus did not disappoint anyone.
What is my motive? Is it for money? Is it for power and position? Is it for the thrill of miracles? Or is it for some physical healing? Is it for going to heaven? Or, is it because I have realised, like Peter, that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God,” who has the words of eternal life; that “there is no salvation in any other, that there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved”? Have I found Jesus to be the treasure worth selling all my possessions for and forsaking all that I have? Am I like the merchant seeking beautiful pearls who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it? Is He more attractive to me than all others in this world, the One who loves me the way I want to be loved? (All other ‘loves' in this world are imperfect in some way.) Do I have a love-relationship with Him? Or, is it a business-like relationship where 'praises go up' so that 'blessings come down'; do I give to the Lord so that He will return it to me in multiples? Is He the centre of my life, or am I trying to use Him like an ATM card when I need Him?
Jesus enumerated the cost of following Him when He started calling disciples. “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matt.10:37-39). In Mark 8:34 we read, “When He had called the people to Himself with the disciples also, He said to them, ‘Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.’ ” How many of us are willing to deny ourselves?
We are living in a world where people attribute no value to their words. The truth is, you are only as good as your word. Jesus is the Word of God; He is the express image of the invisible God. When we confessed Jesus as Lord and Master with our mouth, did we really mean it?
In Acts 8 we read the story about one Mr. Simon who claimed to follow Jesus, but for certain ulterior motives. He practised sorcery in Samaria and impressed people for a long time. They heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries. That is when Philip the apostle came to Samaria and preached the Gospel. “And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did (Acts 8:6). “Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptised, he continued with Philip and was amazed seeing the miracles and signs that were done” (Acts 8:13). This is the time when Peter and John were sent to Samaria by the apostles who were in Jerusalem; hearing that, even Samaritans had believed. As the Holy Spirit had fallen on none of them yet, Peter and John prayed for them laying hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. This attracted Simon. “When Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money saying, ‘Give me this power also, that any one on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit’.”
Here is a person who believed, was baptised and worked with the Apostle Philip for some time, but who talked only in the language of money! What was Peter's response? He said, “Your money perish with you because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter; for your heart is not right in the sight of God” (Acts.8:20,21).
Simon's problem was in the heart. Externally, everything was right. He was like any other believer worshipping with others, involved in the ministry and, of course, assisting Pastor Philip! But his heart was not right in the sight of God! What was Peter's solution for Simon's heart problem? He said, “Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.” Maybe, his bitterness was towards Philip because of his reduced popularity. When Peter asked him to repent, how does he respond? He says, “Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me” (v.24). He is trying to use prayer, in place of repentance! Repentance is the one and only way to get right with God. Nothing else, nothing at all, can substitute for it. Here we also see Simon outsourcing prayer, instead of he himself praying, which many today do.
Get Right With God
Simon's motive in following Jesus was popularity and control over people. What about us? How is your heart? Is it right in the sight of God? I do not think that Simon's heart problem developed suddenly. The true condition of Simon's heart was revealed only when he came into his problem area. Actually there is a stern warning by the Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians 10:1-5. “Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptised into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that Spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. But with most of them God was not well pleased...”
Let us take this warning to heart. Let us introspect, with the help of the Holy Spirit, our motive and see whether God is pleased with our lives. It is important to note that this Old Testament event in the lives of the Israelites is brought here to the attention of the New Testament believers. It is a message to those who say that Old Testament is not relevant to us, New Testament believers, who are living under grace.
Jesus Himself has given us a warning in Matthew 7:21-22. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in your name?’” Obviously, these people thought that prophesying, casting out demons or doing miracles in Jesus' name gave them a ticket to the kingdom of heaven. What is the Lord's response to them? He said in verse 23, “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practise lawlessness!’” Remember, these were people doing great and wonderful things for Jesus in His name!
So, why are you following Jesus? What is your motive? Are you looking forward to the day when you will hear the Master say, “You good and faithful servant”? The other option is, “You wicked and lazy servant.” Is your heart right with God? If not, repent.