Motives

Readings: Luke 1:68-79; Malachi 3:5-12; Philippians 1:12-18a

I want you to know, beloved, that what has happened to me has actually helped to spread the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to everyone else that my imprisonment is for Christ; and most of the brothers and sisters, having been made confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, dare to speak the word with greater boldness and without fear.

Some proclaim Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from goodwill. These proclaim Christ out of love, knowing that I have been put here for the defense of the gospel; the others proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but intending to increase my suffering in my imprisonment. What does it matter? Just this, that Christ is proclaimed in every way, whether out of false motives or true; and in that I rejoice.

More than once I heard each of them preach. Both had taught at Princeton Seminary, and both had served in churches. One preached out of love for Jesus, God-With-Us; the other as a form of public speech. One made time to listen to the life stories of others; the other was too busy running a large church and left the pastoral work to his assistant. One had a deep and abiding prayer life; the other didn’t think much of that kind of thing, and mocked those who did. These two preachers were different in almost every way except one: they revealed the Gospel whenever they stood in the pulpit and preached.

Does it matter, the motives of these preachers? Both proclaimed Christ to a world desperate for hope and love. Paul figured the motives weren’t so important – false or true, the Gospel was offered.

I’ll do my best to remember that, and to remember that Jesus can shine through my own imperfect and mixed motives.

Published by

Johnna

I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

2 thoughts on “Motives”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *