I have long been concerned (well “concern” may be a little pious on my part) or at least aware that many times our motives for mission may be a little suspect. Whether in the local church setting or in the context of the church’s international effort, Christians must constantly allow the light of God’s Word to expose the motives of our deceitful hearts and then be willing to have our thoughts brought into new submission to the Spirit of Christ. You will have to evaluate your own motives and even discover your own examples of such self-righteous display. I simply want to point you to a statement made by the Apostle Paul which serves as an ever-present sieve through which my own self-seeking motives are filtered. Paul identified the very purpose for which he had received “grace and apostleship” was that he might be used to “bring about the obedience of faith among the Gentiles.” That’s a blog in and of itself but I am struck by the next subtle phrase, “for His name’s sake” (Romans 1:5). Every beating that was endured, every church planted, every night without food, every bold message that was proclaimed was motivated by Paul’s love for Christ and the apostle’s unwavering allegiance to the Redeemer. Without question, Paul loved the people he sought to reach with the Gospel (1Thess. 2; Rom. 9). However, in the face of such rejection and persecution I doubt that Paul always found sufficient motivation in his love for those who so fervently opposed him. How often would Paul have reminded himself that the objective of bringing the Gentiles to humble obedience and submission to the Gospel was “for His name’s sake?” In Peter’s post-resurrection restoration, Jesus asked him, “Peter, do you love me?” After affirming his love for Christ, Jesus identified how Peter’s love would be demonstrated in the world with this simple command: “Tend my sheep” (John 21:17). Peter’s motivation for tending the sheep was to be his love for Christ, not his love for sheep. Now this is not to suggest that love for people is not a prerequisite for serving and reaching them with the Gospel. Certainly, we should love those who are groping in darkness, but that love must spring forth from the overflow of our love for Christ and it can never be reversed. The church’s missional effort and energy is “For His name’s sake” and for no other reason than for His glory. John Stott understood the need for proper mission motivation when he said, “The highest of all missionary motives is neither obedience to the great commission (important as that is), nor love for sinners who are alienated and perishing, but rather zeal – burning and passionate zeal – for the glory of Jesus Christ.” Father, may my zeal for your glory drive me to be a living demonstration of Your grace for the world to see.

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