UCAN sharing: Motivation

Scripture: Prov. 4:10-27

As in water face reflects face, So a man’s heart reveals the man. Prov. 27:19

Motivation: the act or instance of providing a reason to act in a certain way. (

A good crime detective will look for clues to establish the motive for a crime. Once the motive is known the nature of the person’s heart can be determined and this leads to greater understanding about the how and why about what was done. Christians must learn to examine their motivations and test them to see if they are of God or ourselves. God has provided the way for anyone, anywhere to receive a new heart but before this can happen the old heart has to be completely removed. This is our task, to say yes to God totally without reservations and want to do His will over ours. Only in this way can a person live by the motivations of God. When man embraces God’s motivations then the result reflects God’s person and not man’s. For Christians we must understand that our new life in Christ means we have accepted that our motivations are no longer from ourselves but from God. Therefore the life we live is for Christ.

“The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? Jer 17:9

Everything that we do is preceded by a thought. This thought is influenced heavily by our beliefs and life experiences. When we make a decision we often rely not on truth but rather what we think to be the best answer for ourselves in any particular situation. This process happens in the heart which is the meeting point of knowledge, experiences and our desires. People’s hearts are not restricted by reasoning or logic. Most of us have had moments when we considered an action knowing it was not good for us but we went ahead and did it anyway. It is the heart’s nature to give in to what is wanted regardless of potential harm making it an unreliable source for life decisions. As a result we see people doing things to themselves despite knowing it will harm them. What they know is not enough to stop the desire from motivating them to go ahead and do an action even if it may harm.

18  But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. Matt. 15:18

When we examine the activities of man we can see that the vast majority of actions are motivated by the desire to please one self. Whether it is working, learning or in relationships we see that the core motivation is about what we perceive will please us over what is right. Even the most selfless acts serve the individual to a certain degree. Consider giving to the poor. People are willing to give when it makes them feel good but not necessarily when it is just right. The word also tells us that the heart is good at deception. Our hearts are capable of believing in lies that we eagerly embrace because all we look at is getting what we want. Consider a young person who meets someone online. They know the person in a shallow way and that this is not a sufficient foundation for a lasting relationship yet they will give themselves to it. Motivations of the heart determine what we do. Our hearts have unlimited ability to give us reasons to do what is wrong. If we are honest and examine ourselves we will see that at some time we lied to ourselves.

We will see that the result of the lies was painful and destructive leading us to conclude that the heart of man is not to be trusted.

26  I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. Eze. 36:26

God offers an elegantly simple solution to man’s corrupt heart: replace it. When man trusts in his heart it will lead him to suffering and lost because it has nothing good to offer. But if we get a new heart that is of God not of man then the character of that heart reflects God not man. While man is corrupt, evil and selfish beyond description God is holy and pure, the only source of unconditional love there is and joins that love with unlimited power. Now this heart is able to obey God because the motivations of this heart are not for self but to please God. Gone are the lustful desires and the reliance on man’s flawed reasoning. Instead a godly heart eagerly seeks to know the truth from the Spirit for all situations in life. It willingly yields its will to God so that God’s will may be expressed. It yearns to be with God recognizing its need for His sustaining grace to empower this entire process.

The image of a regenerated person is striking. A life that is completely different and new (2 Cor. 5:17). A life freed from the shackles of sin and carnality to live and serve intimately with God. What an amazing picture of Christianity. Correct? Not really. Many Christians don’t have this functioning in their lives. They may believe in Jesus and profess a love for him but if that love is not accompanied with total surrender of one’s old life than a bit of flesh remains. It is this bit that hinders the full of grace to empower the transformation of the person. 1 Cor. 5:6-7

6  Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7  Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.

Paul in the book of 1 Corinthians explains it this way. The church had allowed open sexual immorality to exist without rebuke. Paul concerned that the church would continue down this path and draw away from God shares that sin even a little will spread and destroy. He calls us to purge our sin by the sacrifice of Jesus. In other words when we act by our own motivations and seek what we want over what God wants we enter in to a state of sin. Even though we may not see it as sin it is God who determines what sin is. In the same way only God can remove the sin. So the problem lies not in God who has shown us his motivation through the death and resurrection of his son but it us. We want the leaven of worldly life to remain. Why? Our hearts are still motivated by fleshly things.

When a person has cancer the doctors have a difficult task. They must get rid of every single cancer cell in that person’s body because if they don’t and they often fail, the cancer will return. In a similar way, if we refuse to allow God to remove the fleshly desires from our heart then our heart remains tainted and will do what it wants, which leads us to sin. James 1:14 tells us that we by our desires are lead away to sin.

Remove the desire from the heart, free the person to live.

What is a person to do to have a heart after God? The word tells us to kill the flesh, our lustful desires. But we won’t till we have a stronger motivation than “Me”. This motivation is the love that God has for us. When we see how great that love is we will want to draw near to Him. But even God’s love may not be enough to overcome our flesh alone. Many will see the love of God but still choose the world. Why? They are not broken. Many Christians come to Christ in a shallow way, saying a quick prayer without experiencing the conviction of their sin. When a person truly sees how wretched they are without God then they eagerly let go of this life to gain Christ. Moses, Paul had everything man could offered yet both willingly gave it all up to have Christ.

Take time to examine your daily motivations. Be diligent about this as time passes quickly. Why do you do what you do? Is it for your gain and pleasure or God’s? Pray and ask God to show you what your real motivations are. Remember the heart is intensely deceptive and given the opportunity it will seek the flesh. You must come to the Lord open and willing to seek the truth and act on it through repentance. It may seem unpleasant for a moment but the process brings righteousness (Heb. 12). It is your choice.