Motivation is a topic very much on my mind right now. There are a lot of assumptions going around about why people are saying and doing the things they are, or often not doing.
Presumption of innocence is a critical legal idea in the United States. When someone is in court they are supposed to be presumed innocent unless a jury of their peers determines guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. That is my understanding of how the judicial system is supposed to work, or maybe I have watched too many legal dramas on television.
I am not a lawyer or a legal scholar and I am not trying to pretend that I am. What I am writing here is 100% my opinion. I would like to think that my opinion is formed on the foundation of Christian beliefs. This in turn is based on my theological understandings of the Bible. One of the passages my focus has been drawn to is Colossians 3:23-24. A pastor friend shared it on his Facebook page and the words of Paul really have me thinking.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24
What was Paul saying in these verses and how can we apply it to our lives? Work at whatever you are doing with all of your heart. First, Paul is not teaching that we need to do works to get to heaven. Paul is a 100% justification by faith kind of guy. He never taught that the number of good deeds we do is what is going to save us from our sins or give us an invitation to heaven. We are to believe Jesus. we are justified by faith.
What is Paul saying then? Our work, which I believe he means any and all of our activity should be done in a way, with a heart, with a goal of pleasing God. Our efforts as believers should come from a place of devotion to Jesus, as an expression of a transformed heart, and being a new creation in Christ Jesus.
We do whatever it is that we do with a heart for Jesus. Again, what does this mean? We are to work or talk or do or serve out of love, mercy, and grace. Out of a servant’s heart, we care for others. We put others higher than ourselves. The needs of others outweigh ours. We care for the least, the lost, and the last. Service comes from a willing heart, a generous heart.
Sometimes that love is a tough love. Jesus loved all, but he wasn’t afraid to tell someone they were going down the wrong path. He called demons out of the possessed, but he also told the woman at the well to go and sin no more. He spoke strongly. That may be called tough love, but we also may know it as discipline.
But what about the Jesus that overturned the tables of the money changers in the Temple? Jesus was angry, but with a righteous anger. He showed His anger, but He was without sin. Did he hurt the innocent? Never. Discipline. Tough love.
When Paul is telling us to do all we do as if we are working for the Lord, he is telling us to use our gifts and talents given us by God. We should work diligently. We should work without sinning. When we are working, do so without arrogance or greed. Do so without a sense of condescension or superiority. Work as to the Lord with a spirit of mercy and grace that God gives us so abundantly. God gives what we do not deserve; grace and mercy. Should we not extend that same grace and mercy to others?
This brings me back to motivation. We are to be motivated by living our lives in a way that glorifies God. We are to be loving. patient, and kind. We are not to rejoice in wrong, but to rejoice in right. Oh, that’s from another of Paul’s letters, 1 Corinthians. We cannot know the mind or the heart of another. When we have been hurt, it is easy to presume that someone else in intending to hurt us. But in reality assuming two people that may look alike or hold a similar job makes them alike is unfounded and can lead to a misinformed mindset at the least and even be dangerous.
Instead of assigning motivations and presuming to know the heart of another, why not use your energy, your gifts, and your talents to do your work as unto the Lord? Work with a sense of purpose to build up and not tear down. Check your anger. Use that energy to make positive change. Use that energy to build relationships with those about whom you just may assumed an awful lot.
We do not make any progress toward any worthwhile goal without building. Building relationships, building understanding, building foundations, building bridges. Spend time. Make an effort. Move out of your comfort zone. But, please, please, please do not presume to know the heart of another until you have that conversation, even the hard ones, or especially the hard ones.
You may be surprised at what you find. If you work at everything as if unto the Lord, I believe Jesus will be right there in the middle of all that building. If that is the case, maybe there can be less tearing down, and a lot more understanding. Build together, motivate each other as a fruit of understanding, rather than assume the worst about someone you do not even know.