My buddy Glenn Conner asked a brilliant question on Facebook today:
Spiritual opinion question: Do you think that God thinks that it’s enough to do the right things, or do they also need to be done for the right reasons? (Post-salvation, that is.)
I’ve been asked this question by Satan.
Only in his case it was a trick question, designed to paralyze me. The simple fact is that I don’t do anything—including obeying the known instructions of God—for nothing but the right reasons. What time can I pinpoint when absolutely every one of my motives was pure? Even if, by a miracle of the Atonement, there could be such a time… Well, in my case, the devil just has to plant the dimmest shadow of the seed of the theory of a splinter of a mixed motive and I’m dead.
I remember that grace is far larger than my thoughts.
I spent some time yesterday morning thinking on this passage about revival under King Hezekiah:
2 Chronicles 30:17-20 (English Standard Version)
17For there were many in the assembly who had not consecrated themselves. Therefore the Levites had to slaughter the Passover lamb for everyone who was not clean, to consecrate it to the LORD. 18For a majority of the people, many of them from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the Passover otherwise than as prescribed. For Hezekiah had prayed for them, saying, “May the good LORD pardon everyone 19 who sets his heart to seek God, the LORD, the God of his fathers, even though not according to the sanctuary’s rules of cleanness.” 20And the LORD heard Hezekiah and healed the people.
Even though the people were worshiping in partial disregard for the rules of worship, God honored the direction of their hearts, which was helpless recognition of their desperate plight. He did not let concrete processes stand in the way of the life he desired to pour out in their behalf.
And there, I believe is one secret to participating in the life of the Kingdom.
I love this insight provided by one of Glenn’s friends, Rick:
Generally speaking, anything we do as a Christian should be done on the basis of grace through faith, yieldedness to God, in His strength not our own…. Cold hard fact: sometimes we just don’t feel like doing what we should. If we will do it out of obedience, even acknowledging we’d rather not, He will honor it and show His faithfulness.
And then listen to what Ron says:
Just as wearing a certain kind of clothes creates a mind set, doing the right thing also creates a mind set (chicken and egg dilemna). Am I doing it because it IS right or because it will HELP ME be right? God takes us where we are and changes us. IMHO this is one of His methods. Then when we are more mature, He gives us insight into our own motivations and once again we change to be more like Jesus. (onion theory) Yes the goal is right things for the right reasons. Because we are blind and deaf, the Holy Spirit honors our commitment and slowly leads us to the goal.
Isn’t that cool? That reminds me of my college experience.
Funny thing: I began memorizing scripture in college—before I personally knew Christ—because I wanted to compete for the attention of cute girls in our BSU. (This is a true story.)
Before then, I could not memorize anything. Nothing. Somehow I got motivated enough to stick through the difficulty of focusing long enough to gain some success (memorizing scripture, not attracting girls).
And then an amazing thing happened:
God’s word got planted in my heart.
Now here’s the thing. I wasn’t trying to please God so much as attract the respect of girls.
Before God created the heavens and the earth. Before there was chaos from which to fashion creation—before there was light and dark—God knew that in 1974 one of his poor, frightened, confused children would need to come to him and this was the way.
Sometimes I think we worry too much—okay, I worry too much–about “pleasing God.” Honestly? I need his nurture more than his pleasure. I need to be in a place to hear him, to be transformed, to know him, to be healed, to be cleansed.
What I need to do is hear him and then do what he says.
All the rest is just sound and fury.
And a trap.
How about you? How would you answer Glenn’s question?