Motivations for Service 

ABF –  May  2016



One of the hardest parts of growing to manhood or womanhood is setting priorities.   In the Christian life,  the main problems that we face are not usually because of bad things.   Our greatest struggle is doing good things.  The good that we do is the enemy of the best.   Satan desires to fill our lives with good things so that we never get to do the best things.  For instance,  He does not mind us talking about our church as long as we don’t talk about our Savior.  It is good to talk about our church,  but it is not the best thing.  It is not the thing that gives glory to God.  

When we read our Bibles,  the good is reading an entire book,  or the entire Bible.  The best is meditating on it and studying its meaning and applying it.   If reading God’s Word becomes a ritual where we have no idea what we read when we finish with our devotions,  it is not the best that God has for us. 

The same is true about prayer.  We pray for earthly things.  We pray for healing and for work,  and for safety,  but if we fail to pray for the salvation of men and women,  and fail to pray for that they would grow to love the Lord,  we leave out those things that are eternal and substitute those things that will not last,  physical healing,  money needs and earthly strength.  Those are good things,  but not the best things. 


  • What are some of the other good things that we do that do not bring much by way of eternal results?
  • What are some of the best things?


An illustration is found in the story of Mary and Martha, 


Luke 10:40  But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.

41  And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:

42  But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.


A number of things are important.  Jesus has disciples at this time.  “As they went,”  would indicate that there are quite of few people to take care of.  Secondly,  we read,  “Martha received them into her house.”  Her house is possessive.  It does not say “their house.”  The house evidently belonged to Martha.  She has much more responsibility as the head of the house.  Since the house belonged to her,  she felt a need to be hospitable and to meet the needs of those who came to her.  In this case,  there was a lot to do.  She didn’t have time to be “entertained.”  Martha has a work ethic. 

  • Was it important to care for the physical needs of these men?
  • If you were in Martha’s shoes, would you do the same? 
  • Would it bother us if we had a sister or brother who would not help with the work?


We agree with this.  Jesus said to Martha,  “one thing is needful.”   The one thing was not serving.  We would see serving as very important.  IT IS A VERY GOOD THING TO DO,  but it is not the best thing.  It was not the best thing when Christ was on earth for only a short time. 

  • What was the one thing?
  • Why was it the only thing that was needful?
  • Do we tend to neglect this one thing?
  • What do we put in the place of this one thing?


The life on the average Christian is a life of busyness.  We have many obligations.  Those obligations include helping in the nursery,  having people over,  giving to missions,  caring for the poor,  especially poor children.  We must read the Bible,  pray,  witness,  come to church,  in addition to children’s band and choir concerts,  games,  activities,  award ceremonies.  We have weddings,  funerals,  birthdays,  anniversaries.  As your kids get older,  you barely have time to eat. 

When it is all over,  ten years of our lives have fled and we hardly remember any of the events of those ten years.  The memories are bits and pieces of watching our kids grow up.  We might miss the one thing that is needful in those ten years.  The tragedy is that the busyness keeps us from showing to our kids the one thing that is needful.  They miss it because we are too busy to show them. 


Christian Motivation: 

  1. To be Accepted by the Lord

2 Corinthians 5:9  Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.


This passage tells us why we labor.  We labor to be accepted of him.  The next verse shows the authors thoughts of the time of acceptance,


10  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.


Our motivation,  (why we do the things that we do)  at least in part is due to the knowledge that we have to give an accounting to the Lord some day of what we have done.  We will appear before the judgement seat of Christ.  This is a doctrine,  but it has to become more than a fact that we believe.  We have to know that Jesus will reveal to us what we have done.  The revelation shows to us that He knows what we have done. 


  • What is the basis for this accounting? What will be brought up?
  • Is this a judgment based on our sin?
  • Is this a judgment of punishment or rewards?

The answer to that last question is “rewards.”   We will receive.  It is not a punishment of loss.  It is not a punishment of sin.   The sin has already been paid for.  The sin penalty has been removed.  The death of Christ separated that sin from us.  And we read,


Hebrews 10:17  then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”


If this were a judgment of sin,  there would be nothing to show,  for it has all been forgotten.  The judgment is according to what we have done,  good or bad.  The idea of good or bad is based on the thoughts of 1 Corinthians 3,   gold, silver,  precious stones,  wood,  hay, or stubble.   God created all of these things.  He created wood,  hay and stubble, as well as gold, silver and precious stones.   The point of wood, hay and stubble is not sin.  They are not eternal.  They will perish.  These are good things,  but they are not the best things.  The good things are the enemies of the best things.  The good things are temporal,  but the best things are eternal.  We can give food and clothing to people,  and that is good,  but if we fail to provide them with eternal life,  with a Savior,  we have not glorified Christ and we have not built with gold,  silver and precious stones. 

One of our motivations have to be-  standing before our Savior and receiving the things that we have done on this earth. 


  1. The Terror of the Lord

2 Corinthians 5:11  Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.


The second motivation is understanding the wrath of God.  It is not so much a question of being afraid of His wrath for our eternity.  We know that God loves us,  but we also know that people without Christ are under that wrath and will experience that wrath forever and ever.


Romans 2:5  But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,


Salvation is a deliverance from that wrath,


1 Thessalonians 1:10  and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.


In the future,   the day of wrath will come.  At that time,  it will be too late.  We labor because we know that day is coming.  We labor knowing that at some point in the near future,  the eternal state of many will be decided and it will involve the wrath of God.


Revelation 6:16  and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!

17  “For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”


  • Whose wrath is this verse talking about?
  • Can you picture a lamb having wrath? Is Jesus too loving to have wrath?


The wrath pictured here is worse than a mountain falling on a person.  No one is able to survive that wrath.  Who is able to stand?

We are not afraid of his terror toward us.  That is not what is in view here.  The thought of chapter five gives the motivation for us as ambassadors for Christ.  We beseech them in Christ’s stead.  We know the wrath of God.  We have seen it revealed in the Bible.  We witness because we also know that God does not want any man to perish.  When a man dies without Christ,  we read,


John 3:36  “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”


The wrath of God will never leave that person.  For eternity it will abide on him. 


  1. The Love of Christ

2 Corinthians 5:14  For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died;

We are talking about priorities.  We saw that there was one thing needful.  That has to do with our relationship with Christ.  There are many motivations for serving Him,  but the greatest motivation is His love.  It is the highest motivation.  As we understand the love of Christ,  we begin to reciprocate that love.  We read,


1 John 4:19  We love Him because He first loved us.


When we see His great love,  it motivates us to serve Him out of love.  The greater the love,  the greater the service.   The greater the love,  the more we want to serve.  It is easy to do something for someone you love.   The church is lacking this motivation.  Unfortunately,  for many in the modern church era,  they have a greater love for the world than they have for Christ.   John writes, 


1 John 2:15  Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.


The more we love the world,  the less we love God.  You can’t love God and mammon.  It is impossible to have the same love for two different gods (Matthew 6:24).  Our priorities come down to what we love.   The more we love something,  the greater its priority.  That is probably one of the reasons that Christ gave us this first and great commandment. 


Mark 12:30  ‘And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.


  • How can you tell what you love the most in your life?
  • Does this become a high priority in your life?
  • How can a person change what he loves?