INTRODUCTION: This morning I want to talk to you about motives, particualarly motives for serving God. Many people serve God but not all for the same reasons. We know that there are definitely some reasons for serving God that are unacceptable. Jesus made it clear that striving for position and popularity are unacceptable motives for ministry in the Kingdom of God. He told the disciples that the greatest among them would be the least, the servant of them all. The Bible also teaches that greed is an unacceptable motive for serving God, "not greedy for money, but eager to serve". What are acceptable motives for serving our Lord?
In 1 Cor. chapter 9:16-17 Paul gives us three levels of motivation for serving the Lord. Not all levels are equal in accpetability before God but each are legitimate according to Paul. Paul speaking of his own great ministry says, " For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of; for necessity is laid upon me; yea woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward, but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me." (kjv)
Notice three motives for serving the Lord.
I. FEAR OF DISOBEDIENCE (v16)
Paul says in verse 16 that there is no grounds for boasting in the fact that he is a preacher of the gospel. His preaching came about not because of his choice initially but he says, "necessity is laid upon me". Here he is obviously speaking of God's call upon his life. This was issued in a dramatic way just after his conversion on the Damascus road. Annanias was commanded by God to meet Paul and lay hands on him that he might recieve his sight. Annanias protested and Jesus said unto him "Go thy way, for he is a chosen vessel unto me.......For I will show him how great things he must suffer for my names sake." God's call upon Paul's life to preach the gospel was dramatic and clear.
I believe that each member of Christ's body has a Divine calling upon his/her life. Paul pictures each member of the church as a needed member of Christs body, each gifted by the Holy Spirit. "A manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the common good." (1 Cor. 12:7)
We are all called to serve in some respect. Our call may not be the same as Paul's; to preach the gospel. Our call may not be as dramatic as Paul's or Moses' or Isaiah's but it is just as valid and just as real.
My own call to preach began with an inward knowledge that God was leading me to preach the gospel. It defied logic at the time and still does from time to time. Its an intuitive knowledge that God is in this thing, that I am in His will as I pastor and preach. Ittook faith to pursue His call and He has confirmed it to me many times over. How has God called and gifted you to serve Him?
Paul knowing that God called him made this awful statement. "Woe be unto me if I preach mot the Gospel" I once thought this was a cry of passion from a man that loved to preach the Word. We know Paul did have a real zeal to preach, however this is not what he is conveying here. Here he is crying out in fear.
"Woe" is a judgment term, a wrath term. When Jesus condemned the religious leaders he said, "Woe unto you scribes, pharisees, you hypocrites." When he condemned the rejecting towns he ministered in he said, "Woe unto you Chorazin, Bethsaida.....Capernaum....It shall be more tolerable for Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee." Speaking of Judas he said, "The Son of Man goeth as it is written of him, but Woe unto that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It had been good for that man had he not been born."
Paul trembled in his sandels with fear of ever stepping out of God's revealed will for his life. He feared disobeying God in this calling. "Woe" be unto me if I do such a thing he says.
The author of Hebrews talking I believe to Christians said, "it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God".
The cries of protest ring out from our generation. "Fear is not a valid motive." Paul says yes it is. One who directly disobeys God's revealed will for his life should fear God's discipline.
Let me remind you of a little parable Jesus told about three stewards who were called to invest their masters money
while he was away. One failed to take advantage of his opportunities and instead burried the money the master had given him to invest. Jesus tells us that when the master faced this servant he said, "Thou wicked and slothful servant......cast the unprofitable servant into outer darkenss where there shall be weeping and nashing of teeth."