My Motivation: A Theme From Titus
Here it is again! The moment where I have to choose. I hate this moment, and it keeps happening over and over again. Sometimes at church. Sometimes on the phone. Sometimes at work. It doesn't seem to matter where I go; I can not get away from having to choose. Today it happened like this:
In the too cold sunday school room they make this announcement: Someone has an elderly parent that has become ill. Childcare for their children and meals would be appreciated.
I hate this moment because now while I watch other people making choices (In kind words, promises, or neglect) I am forced to make a decision: “What will I do?”
The internal dialogue of my mind starts up with a cacophony of voices. I hear:
- “You are a Christian and you should do this because Christians are supposed to help one another. Christ died for you; what are you doing for others?”
- “They are worse off than you. You should help them because you're not in that much of a mess.”
- “There is so much for you to do at home. No one will know if you don’t help them. Your life is hard enough as it is. Don’t add more to your own load.”
- “You want to look good in the eyes of the church and looking good means helping people.”
- “You want to do the right thing, but you don’t know if making meals and babysitting is a wise choose right now. Your plate is pretty full.”
This chaos is running rampage through my mind as I try to make a decision. I want to do what God asks of me, but serving people or sacrificing to help people can be hard. I have a difficult time discerning if I am doing it for the right or wrong reasons. If it’s for the wrong reasons then why am I doing it at all?
Being caught in this decision making spaghetti is stressful and it hurts. I don’t know if I am selfish or giving? Kind or mean? Helping myself or hurting others? I hate these moments because they became huge volcanoes of emotion that erupted and spewed all over my life.
I sigh. The eruption was over and had left me sitting quietly in my cushy, but ugly, sunday school chair hearing nothing of the lesson being taught. I shivered. I took a breath. I coached myself to remember a different lesson I had learned. A lesson that Titus teaches.
“For the GRACE of God has appeared” Titus 2:11
You see this handful of words changes everything!
Remember that internal dialogue that I was talking about? All those voices were things that I counseled myself in the past. In that past I did a lot of good things, a lot of good deeds. I worked hard. I prayed. I studied the Word. I helped people. I did, and I did, and I did. Good deed after good deed after good deed…and I was angry about it!
I was angry because my motivation was wrong. I was doing good deeds because that's what I felt good Christians should do.
My understanding of God’s ‘Sound Doctrine’ was wrong. Titus talks a lot about having ‘Sound Doctrine.” He urges us to told fast to the truth of who God says He is and who God says we are. My doctrine was not sound. It was so, very, painfully wrong. And believing the wrong thing was hurting me.
My good deeds were being tainted and twisted into something painful to me because I was not believing Sound Doctrine. This issue is what Paul is trying to explain to Titus and to the believers at Crete. He is explaining that what doctrine we believe becomes our motivation in how we do life (Titus 3:8). Our motivation affects whether we do good or evil deeds.
Right thinking (Sound Doctrine) will produce right works. Or good doctrine makes good deeds.
I had wrong thinking and bad doctrine. Remember I was doing things because that’s what I thought I should do - I was making an appearance. I was not doing things because I loved God or His people. I did what looked like good deeds. And while some of my deeds might have looked nice on the outside, they were rotten within. Like a bad orange; beautiful on the outside but dry and tart on the inside.
So, if the way that I was thinking (my heart’s motivation) was wrong, then what was truth?
Paul tells us in Titus 2:11 and 3:4-5:
“For the GRACE of God has appeared bringing salvation to all men….
But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds...but according to His mercy”
The truth is that God is mindful of our frame and knows how we are made. God knows I am not perfect. I don’t have to prove that I am worth Christ dying for me by doing good deeds. God’s grace, kindness, love, and mercy took me exactly as I am.
So today, when faced with this decision about serving another, I stopped and chose to believe God’s truth.
- God’s grace has appeared in my life.
- God is kind to me.
- Jesus loves me.
- God has mercy on me.
When I choose to believe this -- then my identity is no longer affected by what I say and do. I don’t have to try and make my deeds look pretty for Jesus so that I can keep up an appearance. I do not have any pressure to do Good Deeds because Jesus is my all regardless. Regardless.
Now I am free. That scary volcano of emotion which was churning out ash and soot has dissipated, and I am at peace.
I am sitting in the Sunday School room, and there are people all around me. I am still cold, wondering why I chose to wear a knee length dress instead of a maxi that would cover my legs, but my heart is warm.
My motivation has changed because the GRACE of God has appeared. I can now hear this request with perfect calm. Someone has an elderly parent that has become ill. Childcare for their children and meals would be appreciated.
My internal dialogue is different this time.
- “God loves me and I have grace, love, kindness, and mercy regardless of what I do because I am His.”
- “I Corinthians 9:7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
- “I really do have a lot going on this Sunday, and watching children isn’t the best option for me right now. However, I do have to make supper for my family every night. I could make a double batch on Thursday.”
- “Because I am so full of Christ’s love, I would like to love on someone else, even if that means putting off my project one night to run a meal to someone.”
- “I would like to sign up for a meal on Thursday.”
This good deed isn’t like the ones I was doing before that were hardened and sour. This fruit is sweet and juicy.
This fruit is the abundance of right motivation. It is understanding what Paul is telling Titus…
Good doctrine produces good deeds.
Hannah Michael Wolfkill Snyder has always loved all of her names (yes, each one is on her passport!). However, the name she loves the most is Jesus. Jesus taught her how to play in the throne room of Heaven and sit in the lap of God the Father. This is her identity, where her heart loves to abide (even if her hands and feet are busy on earth running a household or meeting up with people). Because of her joy in the Father, her heart’s desire is to show women their God given identity in the kingdom of Heaven. You can find her on Instagram.