Why do you do it? What motivates you?
Suffering is everywhere in our world. We can barely turn on our television or devices or read a newspaper, book or magazine article without being jarred by learning about someone else or another community suffering. It is worldwide and our solutions at times seem to only touch the surface. And in part, that is true.
If a key motivating factor is missing from our desire to serve, alleviate suffering and render justice, our approach and solutions will fall short.
You may be socially aware (having a sense of concern or responsibility for the problems and injustices of society), which is great. You may be even more socially aware and more “woke” than others. That’s great too. And yet, that is not enough. It falls short of God’s intentions for truly rendering aid to the needs of people beyond their physical needs and alleviating their physical, mental or emotional suffering.
In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus gives us our direction and instructions to truly make those suffering whole:
19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
If we are not first motivated by a love for God, and then a love for neighbor, our efforts will be surface.
As we as individuals, through our businesses, groups, organizations or ministries serve in various facets determined to make great change, we would do well to invite the key player to lead our plans: God, and a love for God. This intentional action and focus allows us to be part of the redemptive transformation for people God intends —beyond simply meeting their temporal needs.
An excerpt from the book, A Missional Life (2013), written by 14 authors and published by the Christian Medical and Dental Associations, challenges us to further discern our motivations for serving others:
“Are you motivated by a general need to do something or do you desire to see the knowledge of God’s glory cover the earth, “as the waters cover the sea.” (Habakkuk 2:14)?
How you answer that question will largely determine whether you are focused on being a disciple of Christ acting on his behalf for the good of others, or if you are merely acting and rebelling; whether you are truly missional or merely have a social conscience; whether you are living for Christ or for yourself.”
While it is good to think about and feel compassion for the suffering happening in our world, have you done so with an eye toward Christ Jesus? With an eye to see, ears to hear and a heart attuned to catch God’s biblical vision of how He desires for you to respond as His ambassador? As His hands and feet? Are you serving for yourself or serving Him? Why do you do it? What motivates you? Are you connected to God’s eternal plan or simply your strategic plan? Are we giving them bread for their body and for their soul — food that will sustain them beyond today?
We are imperfect beings and often self-centered (sometimes unintentionally) so we need a better motivation to do what is good; a more perfect motivation to truly do work with results that will last.
Heavenly Father, help us to have the mind of Your Son Jesus Christ in all that we do, even as we seek to alleviate suffering in our world. May we serve as the hands and feet of Christ as we address the physical, emotional, mental and temporal needs of those you place in our path as well as their eternal and redemptive needs. May we offer Your bread that will truly sustain them.
In Jesus’ Name we pray and ask this,