THE RIGHT MOTIVE FOR CHRISTIAN LIVING
or RIGHT THINGS FROM WRONG MOTIVES
INTRO. Events that took place in our country before
national television in the last two or three days
highlights our lesson this morning. When our
president called a national alert for our defense
forces, his motives were questioned on national
television and provoked a variety of responses.
Although we don't share it often, we do realize there
is the question in most people's minds again and
again, why is someone doing this?
To the Jews there were three great cardinal works of
the religious life or three great pillars on which the
good life was based:
1. It was alms giving
Jesus didn't question this for a moment, but what
troubled him was that so often in human life the
finest things were done for the wrong motives.
It's a strange fact that these three cardinal good
works lend themselves so easily to wrong motives.
1. Jesus said a man may give alms but not really
to help the person to whom he gives but simply to
demonstrate his own generosity and to bask in the
warmth of someone's gratitude and all men's
2. Secondly, a man may pray in such a way that
his prayer is not really addressed to God but to
his fellowman. His praying may simply be an
attempt to demonstrate his exceptional piety in
such a way that not one person fails to see it.
3. Thirdly, a man may fast but not really for the
good of his own soul; not to humble himself in
the sight of God but simply to show the world
what a splendidly self-disciplined character he
Now there is no doubt at all that that kind of motive
receives a certain kind of reward. Three times in
Matt. 6:2, 5, 16 he said, "Verily, verily, I say unto
you. They have their reward."
ILL. It would be better translated, "They
receive payment in full." The word used in the
Greek is a technical business and commercial word
for receiving payment in full. It was the word,
which was used on received accounts. For a
person to serve God with this motive the Bible
says, "You have received all you are going to
To paraphrase what Jesus was saying is this; "If you
give alms to demonstrate your generosity you will get
the admiration of man but that is all you will ever
get. That is your payment in full. If you pray in
such a way as to flaunt your piety in the fact of men
you will gain the reputation of being an extremely
devout man but that is all you will ever get. That's
not your payment in full. If you fast in such a way
that all men know you are fasting you will become
known as an extremely disciplined and ascetic man, but
that's all you'll ever get. That is your payment in
Jesus is saying, if your one aim is to get yourself
the world's rewards no doubt you will get them, but
you must not look for the reward which God alone can ...
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