How Important Are My Motives?

How Important Are My Motives?

“If we would have people who have come to faith Jesus Christ focus on the judgment seat of Christ— they would agree with Paul that these light momentary afflictions are producing for them an eternal and exceedingly heavy weight of glory.”___ Earl Radmacher

I am convinced that motivation is critical if our servanthood at the judgment is going to be acceptable. Laboring faithfully for the Lord is necessary but it has to arise from pure motives.

Consider Jesus’s words in Matthew 6:5, “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that may be seen by others. Truly I say to you, they have received their reward.”

I remember Pastor Gene saying on several occasions, “doing a wrong thing in a wrong way is always wrong, doing a right thing in a wrong way is wrong, only one God accepts is doing a right thing in a right way.” That is doing it with right motives.

I really connect with this thought from D. Harry Ironside;

Have you ever as a Christian stopped to think of what a solemn thing it will be when your life’s work is ended, when all further opportunity for witnessing for Christ on earth will have gone by forever, when you stand in your glorified body before his judgment-seat, and he will go back over all the way you have come, and will his estimate of all your service, of everything you have attempted to do for him? Will he have to say at such a time, “ You had a very wonderful opportunity to glorify Me, but you failed because you were so self-occupied, you were so much concerned about what people would think of you, instead of being concerned about pleasing Me: I will have blot all that out, I cannot reward you for that, for there was too much self in that service”? And then he will point to something else, maybe something you had forgotten altogether, and he will say, “ There! You thought you failed in that; didn’t you? You really thought you blundered so dreadfully that your whole testimony amounted to nothing, but I was listening and observing, and I knew that in that hour of weakness your own desire was to glorify Me, and though nobody applauded you I took note of it and will reward you for it.” What a joy it will be to receive his approval in that day. If we learn to live as Paul did with the judgment-seat of Christ before us, we will not be men-pleasers but we will be a Christ-pleaser.

I see that as a prime example of service without proper motives and service with proper motives.

God worthy motives to consider. I will list ten and some scripture texts.

  1. The Desire to Love the Master. Jesus said, “If you love me you keep my commandments” (John 14:15, see vs. 21 also). And these words from John in his first letter, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments” (1 John 5:3).
  2. The Desire to Avoid God’s discipline. This is flip side of love and sometimes referred to as serving in the fear of the Lord, Acts 9:31 and Phil. 2:12.
  3.  The Desire to Have a Clear Conscience. 1 Tim. 1:5, Paul writes, “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” also  2 Tim. 1:3, 1 Peter 3:15-16.
  4. The Desire for Usefulness, ”Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.” (2 Tim. 2:20,21). Think about this question, what is the point in being Christ’s vessel if we are not fit to be used?   
  5. The Desire for Friends and Family to Be Saved. Proper motivation as a disciple, having a good testimony, can have a powerful impact on the unsaved who see and know our love for Jesus. Peter”s instruction to believing wives in 1 Peter 3:1-2, “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.”
  6. The Desire for a Deeper Walk With God. In 1 John 1:6,7 John writes, “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”
  7. The Desire to do the Right Thing. We don’t do the right thing for reward only, we do it because it is the right thing to do, it is God’s will. Phil. 4:8, “ Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
  8. The Desire for Personal Peace. Paul continues in Phil. 4, this time in vs. 9, “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me__ practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”   
  9. The Desire for Present Blessing. In order to obtain a blessing, we must first be a blessing, consider 1 Peter 3:9-12.
  10. The Desire for Eternal Rewards. Jesus said it best, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt. 6:9-11).

Examining our motives needs to be a constant, intentional practice, seeking discernment from the Holy Spirit and being empowered by Him.

To consider:

  • Are you in an examining process as a regular practice in your discipleship? If not, why not?
  • Can you honestly say you desire the deep things of God?
  • Does the truth that you will appear at  the Bema Seat frighten you or inspire you?  


  1. Just my thoughts…Formula* Living a life in and for the Lord: Love+faithfulness+obedience+studying His Word=right motives and good works that produce good fruit.
    Examining my motives, as you say, P. Dave, needs to be a constant and intentional practice; looking to the Holy Spirit for discernment.


  3. Great blog P Dave! It is so important for us to examine our motives and be willing to pursue the ‘thing’ the Lord is leading us to do, especially when only He will notice it. I’m learning that it’s best not to put off doing those things the Spirit is nudging me to do. They may be the very things that will become the answer to someones prayer as well as the origin of a specific eternal reward. Either way, in my obedience, the Lord is glorified!

  4. Thanks Pastor Dave I really like this blog. Especially about all the times that we do the right thing with a right motive and God is the only one who saw it! In humility I have no idea how many “good deeds” or service I’ve done in over 20 years of walking with the Lord. Long ago a mentor once told me to never count or keep score of these things. He said God had his own recording angels who keep track of such statistics. This always worked for me

  5. The desire for usefulness…that is one motive that we can so easily try to dictate to God “our plan.” I have to challenge myself to submit my desire for acclaim at His Cross of surrender. He’s my model. His humility squashes my cravings to be noticed. As I prostrate my will before the King, I agree to be available according to His “honorable use.” Often, this means being esteemed lowly or even foolish to others. But, it continues to be enough just to know He is well pleased with my obedience.

  6. I did not get to hear your message but this blog hit home. So many times I feel I failed or missed an opportunity but Gids grace and mercy gives me anither

  7. WE will all be judged by GOD when we meet HIM when our time isup so we should love one other ,pray,and read the word and share the word and tell others about JESUS how HE loves us so much

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