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Summary: This sermon encourages inspection of our heart motives: ULTERIOR MOTIVE is a huge issue in the world today. Are you motivated by love, or the "What’s In It For Me" factor?

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Buried somewhere in the center of a stack of moving boxes are three thick books: our family photo albums, the antiquated ones. Everyone knows flipping the pages of a photo album is out. Now CD’s and DVD’s are in. The pictures never fade, the slideshow runs without the old family slide projector and the entire collection can be duplicated in just a few minutes.

In the pages of our photo albums is a picture of my sister and I, which I’ll never forget.

Both of us are dressed in our pajamas, sitting on a living room chair cheek to cheek with big smiles on our faces, hugging each other. To any stranger, there’s nothing interesting about the picture. It’s just two kids being affectionate toward each other. But there are some clues in the picture that reveal a more detailed and sinister scenario…

My sister Shelly and I are three years apart in age. She’s my big sister. Now, when you’re a twelve year old and your sister is 15, there’s a huge generation gap there, and that gap adds up to sibling rivalry. Very rarely would we ever show affection like the affection, which the picture portrays.

So the Christmas tree in the background of that affectionate and revealing picture offers the big clue.

I can remember parts of that evening with brilliant detail. It was Christmas Eve. Shelly and I had been fighting over some silly thing, and mom was tired of hearing it so she bribed us. She said, “I’ll let you each open one gift tonight IF… IF you’ll hug each other and say you love each other.”

So the picture is more than a moment of affection: it’s a moment of pure ulterior motive in progress. Two kids, suffering a few seconds of affection so we could open a present on Christmas Eve.

An affectionate hug between siblings is a good thing. None of us would argue that point. But the motive should be one of deeper substance than it was. We weren’t hugging because we had forgiven each other for the argument and wanted to say ‘I love you.’ We were hugging for the prize. Even though the action of hugging was good and right, the motive was all wrong. Today, when I see the picture, I get a chuckle because I see two kids with ulterior motives.

ULTERIOR MOTIVE is a huge issue in the world today.

Few people are motivated to kind acts by the love and sincerity of their heart. Most of the time, we humans are asking the question, “What’s in it for me?”

Just watch 60 minutes of television on Thursday nights and you’ll see the men and women of the hit show “Survivor”, who will stop at nothing to deceive each other for the sake of money. With a wink of the eye and a handshake, they strike deals set in stone, then they break their fragile promises once the opportunity affords them a gain. They lie and cheat, backstab and deceive for the sake of the prize. Then they say, “It’s just a game.” to sluff off the guilt. But lying and decieving are not just a game.

They are the stuff of real life… They are the ingredients of ulterior motive.

Television and movie producers alike all admit that television reflects its society. The values of a society are reflected in the things we produce and the things we produce spring up from what we have deep inside us. If we have hatred or bitterness inside, then the overflow of our heart will produce the fruits of hatred and bitterness. If we are full of spite, then we will live spiteful lives.


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