Summary: Adopting certain attitudes will motivate us to more faithful service.
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU?
GALATIANS 6: 11-13
What is it that motivates you each day? Maybe you work for someone else. What motivates you to get up and go to work? Perhaps it is the paycheck you know you will receive or that you know your family has needs. Maybe your parents instilled in you a sense of the goodness of work. Even the retired often work very hard. I have heard many retired people say they do not know how they had time to work they have so much to do now. They have no employer to answer to. They will still receive that pension or Social Security check if they do not do anything. Why is it that they insist on keeping busy? Perhaps they have heard the message that work is good for our health. They want to live longer. They feel better when they exercise to some degree. What is it that motivates people to save money? Maybe they fear that one day Social Security will go bankrupt. Perhaps they are saving it for a rainy day. What motivates the student to study or the child to obey Mom and Dad? The student knows study is necessary if they are to pass, and the child knows that to disobey Mom or Dad probably means punishment of some sort.
Have you ever wondered what motivates people to come to church and to be involved in the work of the church. Is it remotely possible that some or even many do this with improper motives? It is possible for someone to support God's church and still miss the boat? We can look at all the people who attend church on any given Sunday and wonder what their motives might be for coming? Are they motivated by a sense of guilt if they do not come? Do they come as a result of pressure from family members or out of fear of disappointing them if they do not? Do some work in the church thinking they can in some way earn their salvation? Are some simply carrying on a family tradition? Are some simply searching to fill a void they feel in their lives? Is it entirely possible for a person to attend and work in God's church and still not gain a heavenly reward? We can assume that improper motives for coming to church and working in church are more present than we know.
Paul rebukes such impure motives in these verses by again appealing to the example of the Judaizers. They tried to turn the Galatians back to the Mosaic ceremonies and laws as a mean to gain salvation rather than simply trusting in faith in Jesus Christ as Paul taught. It is entirely possible that they claimed to speak for the Jerusalem apostles and perhaps even Paul himself. The Galatians may have wondered whom to believe. They were hearing two messages: one from Paul that salvation was through faith in Christ and the other from the Judaizers that works must be added. What motivated the Judaizers was impure and unacceptable.
Through looking at the negative, we want to consider those positive things that should motivate us to do God's work.
I. BE MOTIVATED BY HUMILITY
Paul condemns the Judaizers for religious pride. They were no different from the Pharisees and Saduccees that Jesus often condemned during his ministry. Paul said the Judaizers desired to make a good showing in the flesh. They tried to compel the Galatians to undergo the Jewish rite of circumcision. They were like the scribes and Pharisees of whom Jesus said; “You will travel about on sea and land to make one proselyte” and then they would make him “twice as much a son of hell” as themselves. (Matthew 23:15)
Flesh carries a different meaning here than we have previously considered. It is not a reference to residual desires and patterns of acting but rather a reference to human works apart from the Spirit of God. It is an attempt to show off what they depended on: their good works. Pleasing God with inward righteousness did not concern them. They were only concerned with what others thought of them. They wanted to impress others with their outward show of legalism.
It was this same religious pride that Jesus condemned. He gave repeated warnings against this in his Sermon on the Mount and in other settings. On one occasion, he said; “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1) He also said that when we do good deeds we are not to sound a trumpet or call attention to them so as to receive praise from others. It is praise from God that counts. He warned against insincere prayers such as those made by the religious leaders. They would stand in the synagogues and street corners so that others could hear their eloquent prayers, prayers that went no further than the ceiling because they were designed to impress. Jesus warned against insincerity in fasting. The religious leaders would fast in such a way that it was evident to others what they were doing. They wanted to impress with their piety. In speaking to the religious leaders on another occasion, Jesus said; “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts.” (Luke 16:15)