Motives and Destinies

Motives and Destinies (Conclusion)

As leaders of the church of God we have the dual assignment of helping our people to develop a sound spirituality for themselves and of motivating them to work for the salvation of others.

TREVOR G. LLOYD Supervisor of Primary Teacher Training Avondale College, Australia

Someone has said that every heart contains both a cross and a throne, and these two—the place of denial and the place of rulership—are always occupied. In the heart of the willful, rebellious sinner self rules upon the throne and Christ is daily crucified. It is the work of the gospel minister, the Christian parent, and the church school teacher to present the love story of the Lord Jesus so that the sinner may surrender the throne to divine ruler-ship and at the same time crucify self.

The members of our families, schools, and congregations have not rightly begun their day unless they cooperate with the Holy Spirit in this heart work. Then throughout the day they are to keep self in the place of denial upon the cross as they reckon themselves "dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord." This battle in the heart against "self" is the greatest battle we fight. It is the only real problem guardians of the flock face in preparing their charges for the kingdom of Christ. When the throne is surrendered Jesus' kingdom has come in a very important sense—God's will is "done on earth, as it is in heaven"—from a heart of loving surrender.

The keepers of the Lord's family are asked in Jeremiah 13:20, "Where is the flock that was given thee, thy beautiful flock?" In this case apparently the flock is missing and the keepers are held responsi­ble, for the following verse reads, "What wilt thou say when he shall punish thee? for thou hast taught them to be captains, and as chief over thee . . ."

It is a strange and fearful thing that those keepers of the flock themselves might contribute directly to the misdirection of the family of God by their teaching of them—here teaching them to be "captains and chief," to be top, and first and win­ner, to enthrone the self that ought to be denied, to choose a path apart from that trodden by the Lord Jesus, who was motivated only by love for God and men.

As leaders of the church of God we have the dual assignment of helping our people to develop a sound spirituality for them­selves and of motivating them to work for the salvation of others. When we state the task this way, the question may immedi­ately arise, Are these different assignments or are they inseparably bound together? The soul that is captivated by the love of Christ must overflow with that love, must be constrained to active expression, and this must be by far the most effective wit­nessing, for love is the greatest motivating force in the universe. The awareness of this love may well be the testing brook at which our armies should drink that the three hundred might be chosen and then go out under the blessing of God.

It would appear, then, that the best pro­motional sermons for a church campaign lead the people to the great discovery of the love of God for them. It is nothing short of tragedy if our motivational means makes continual appeal to selfishness and under­mines the spiritual lives of our flock, which we work and pray to advance. It is of in­terest to ask: "What practical organiza­tional outworkings can rightly be expected when a church leader inspires a church to activity by leading to a willing response of love?" Inspiration provides some clear an­swers.

1. Personal challenge from man to man by way of individual invitation to engage in service is appropriate in a Christ-cen­tered, love-prompted motivational situa­tion. Jesus extended invitations to service to individuals on several occasions. The Master walked with Peter alone when He charged him, "Feed my sheep." It was a personal call received by Paul at his con­version. Nicodemus and the woman of Samaria responded to a call that was heard first by their ears alone. "Let him that heareth say, Come." Under the leading of God we have the privilege of sharing in the "highest work of education," which is imparting that "vitalizing energy which is received through the contact of mind with mind, and soul with soul" (The Desire of Ages, p. 250). "If men in humble life were encouraged to do all the good they could do, if restraining hands were not laid upon them to repress their zeal, there would be a hundred workers for Christ where now there is one."—Ibid., p. 251.

2. Subdivision of work into sections to be carried out by various groups systemat­ically has Biblical precedent.

A Lesson From Nehemiah

The whole of chapter three of Nehe­miah tells how the task of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem was tackled systemat­ically and thoroughly by working bands. Other organizational features in Nehe­miah's campaign could well be adopted. He made a preliminary survey of the field. "The fact that he had made this circuit contributed greatly to his success; for he was able to speak of the condition of the city with an accuracy and a minuteness that astonished his hearers."—Prophets and Kings, p. 637.

Three of the groups at work on the wall were recorded as working over against their house. The first to begin work were the or­dained workers of God: "Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests, and they builded the sheep gate; they sanctified it, and set up the doors of it."

Eliashib's action was noteworthy for courage and faith, for no part standing alone would look more foolish than a pair of gates in a broken-down wall. Eliashib's sheep gate stood as a lead to the flock of God as well as serving the sheep of the townspeople.

It is noteworthy that the project before the people was made a cooperative and not a competitive effort. Nehemiah "sought to gain the confidence and sympathy of the people, knowing that a union of hearts as well as of hands was essential in the great work before him" (ibid.). A completed wall about the city would be of little use if those within had been trained to work "through strife or vainglory."

3. The provision of tasks in Christian service according to ability, with every member given his place and given appre­ciation for his efforts, is one counter meas­ure to a system of selfish motivation.

One of Ellen G. White's most striking denunciations of the competitive, selfish-seeking type of motivation is accompanied by an outline of the principles of true edu­cation's "counterinfluence" to the "curse of our world."

"At such a time as this, what is the trend of the education given? To what motive is appeal most often made? To self-seeking. Much of the education given is a perver­sion of the name. In true education the selfish ambition, the greed for power, the disregard for the rights and needs of hu­manity that are the curse of our world, find a counterinfluence. God's plan of life has a place for every human being. Each is to improve his talents to the utmost; and faithfulness in doing this, be the gifts few or many, entitles one to honor. In God's plan there is no place for selfish rivalry. Those who measure themselves by them­selves, and compare themselves among themselves are not wise (2 Cor. 10:12). Whatever we do is to be done 'as of the ability which God giveth' (1 Peter 4:11). It is to be done 'heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the in­heritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ' (Col. 3:23, 24). Precious the service done and the education gained in carrying out these principles. But how widely different is much of the education now given! From the child's earliest years it is an appeal to emulation and rivalry; it fosters selfish­ness, the root of all evil."—Education, pp. 225, 226.

4. Accurate reporting in an appropriate way of efforts and results in mission work is in keeping with a Christ-centered system of motivation.

When the twelve returned from their missionary campaign, they "gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught" (Mark 6:30).

The matter of "good works" is men­tioned several times in the Sermon on the Mount. On two occasions stress is laid upon the care that must be taken in pub­licizing these deeds. The light of our good works is to shine in such a way that the minds of others will not dwell upon us but will be turned to our heavenly Father with the thought, "How good is God."

The opening verses of Matthew 6 make it clear that men rob themselves of the re­ward God has for them in their Christian service when they engage in service with the hope of the approval of men. The hyp­ocrites seek glory from men, and in get­ting it, receive all the reward that will be given. We say, and rightly, that those who do not engage in mission work miss out on a blessing, but it seems clear that those who engage in Christian service with the idea of receiving credit from their fellow Christians also miss out on the blessing.

Glory From God or Man

Jesus' instruction in John 5:41-44 indi­cates the crucial relationship between mo­tives and spiritual health; between seeking honor from men and believing in the lowly Christ.

"I do not accept honour from man, but I know that in your hearts you do not really love God" (verses 41, 42, Wey­mouth, 4th ed.).

At first reading this may seem a strange balance of ideas. What does accepting glory and praise have to do with love? The answer seems to be, "Everything." Jesus seems to be saying, "I do not accept glory from man (but rather from God), but I know that you love the praise and recog­nition of men because you don't really love God."

It becomes clear that we must choose from whom we shall receive our glory—God or man? As leaders we must choose to motivate our people in service either by seeking the approval of God or of our fel­low man.

When we read on to verse 44 we dis­cover that Jesus, the Author of our plan of salvation, has stated clearly that this question is crucial to the salvation of our flock.

"How is it possible for you to believe, while you receive glory from one another and have no desire for the glory that comes from the only God?"

Of course, it adds up very sensibly. How can we have within us the manner of thinking of the lowly Jesus, who emptied Himself and renounced the motivation of reputation when we live for the gaining of pre-eminence? How can we believe in the humble Christ, who "was never elated by applause, nor dejected by censure or disappointment" (The Desire of Ages, p. 330), if we are prompted by the desire for applause? How can our flock believe in One in whose life "no act to gain applause was ever witnessed" if we educate them to work for that One in order to be praised by their group (ibid., p. 261)? If they do not believe in (i.e., live by) that One, how can they have His salvation?

Learning of and responding to the love of God in Christ is the only hope either we or our people have. Without an under­standing of that love, our motives will be all self. With glimpses of that love will come glimpses of the wonders of the serv­ice of sonship to replace the shackles of self-slavery. Glimpses of the worth that God places upon His children to replace the fearful insatiably hungry self-image that requires constant competition against others in order to achieve self-respect. How wonderful to be complete in Him who loves us above His own life with an ever­lasting love.

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TREVOR G. LLOYD Supervisor of Primary Teacher Training Avondale College, Australia

August 1968

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