When I went to Africa on a mission trip, it wasn’t the differences of Africans from Americans that shocked me. It was their similarities. Just like American teenagers, the Ugandan senior high boys seemed “too cool” to get involved, the senior high girls sat around giggling about the guys, and all the junior highers were enjoying the games shamelessly. I had to keep reminding myself, “Chip, your not in Kansas (USA) anymore!” Watching how teenage guys are prone to video games, wrestling, and grunting while teenage girls naturally love giggling, discussions, and frequent bathroom trips together…I’m convinced that both genders operate off different motivations. Teenage guys are motivated by action while teenage girls are motivated by affection.
Since we’re on the subject of motivation, it’s important to crack our chests open, and examine our hearts… spiritually! What is the central motivation of our lives? Why do we do what we do? I believe if we’re honest, we’ll all admit that sometimes we just get tired of doing the “Christian thing” whether it be church, singing, witnessing, studying, etc. Paul is addressing a church in the same condition that we often find ourselves. He points them back to the right motivation for life in 1 Corinthians 3:10 – 15.
Paul is writing his little heart out to the church in the city of Corinth saying that life isn’t about him or anyone else in ministry, but it’s about the foundation that every ministry should be built on. That foundation is Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ is the motivation for our salvation (vs. 10-11). The foundational motivation that God uses to bring everyone to faith in Christ is the desire to know and follow Christ. When I played high school basketball, the number one reason I played was for glory – the glory of the team and the glory of me. Glory is the reason I ran sprints, practiced until near exhaustion, shot more than a hundred times a day, and wore the embarrassingly tight hand-me-down uniform. God’s goal for salvation is that Jesus Christ would get the glory from our lives. God works in the heart of a sinner in a way that they see their sin, they see their need for Christ, and they want to be united to Him.
Not only salvation, but Paul also says that Jesus Christ is the motivation of our sanctification (vs. 12-15). Sanctification is a word talkin’ bout our spiritual growth. Paul rushes his readers way ahead to the Day of Judgment as he tells them that all of their works will be tested with fire. In the next chapter, Paul tells them that their works are being tested for the motivation – why they are done (1 Cor 4:5). So the motivation is crucial! All of this is a picture of our good works being put on a conveyor belt and passing through a fire. If they were done for the glory of Christ, they will come out the other side proven as valuable as gold, silver, and jewels. If even the best of someone’s good works weren’t done with the motivation of glorifying Christ (if done for self or someone else), then the worth will be proven by ashes of incinerated wood, hay, and straw. God’s desire is that we do everything for the glory of His Son, Jesus Christ. Change your mind to make Jesus’ glory the reason for everything you do. Decide to grow spiritually as a Christian because you want to glorify Christ with your life!
As I’m writing this right now, you may be just as bothered as I am about the past. “What about all of those Christian, religious, great things I’ve done in my life? Are you saying they don’t count to God unless Jesus is first in my mind?” That’s not what I’m saying at all. I would never come up with anyone like that because I’m a sinner. But that is what God is saying through the Apostle Paul. If we find ourselves doing things not for Christ’s glory, we must stop, pray, and set our hearts on Him. Just like guys and girls, the motivation of Christians must be different from the world – Jesus Christ!