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Mixed motives

Chick-fil-A coupons cause people in my family to drive out of their way. People will go out of their way for food.   You can read the story of a crowd chasing Jesus for free food in John 6. Like Pavlov’s dog, they respond to the rumbling in their stomachs.   You may say they had …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
Chick-fil-A coupons cause people in my family to drive out of their way. People will go out of their way for food.
 
You can read the story of a crowd chasing Jesus for free food in John 6. Like Pavlov’s dog, they respond to the rumbling in their stomachs.
 
You may say they had mixed motives, but Jesus has always worked with mixed motives. That’s all he has to work with. We’re afraid of hell, so we embrace a God who loves us. We want an abundant life, so we embrace a God who likes to give good gifts to his children.
 
When the crowd tracks Jesus down, they want to barter. They figure that Jesus wants them to do some kind of work in exchange for food.
 
And people have been trying to make that trade with God ever since. A lot of people took the “bless me, indeed” part of the prayer of Jabez and asked God for an upgrade of their lifestyle. It became a kind of magic prayer.
 
The irony is that God is not offended. He takes our mixed motives and works with them. If he were to wait around for uncluttered hearts from the people seeking him, he wouldn’t have many followers. We need a savior because of our cluttered hearts. We come to him a mess.
 
Jesus, who lived the life of a homeless man, acknowledged to the hungry crowd that, in fact, work was required, but not what they had in mind. “The work of God is to believe,” he said.
 
It’s no small thing this work that he looks for. Every other major religion will engage in the barter that our hearts want. Muslims have five things they have to do before they die. God help you if you can’t afford a flight to Mecca. Or, if you want to be a good Buddhist, you better be prepared to do time as a monk.
 
Jesus’ work is as hard as it is abstract. He wants to take our mixed motives and transform them. “Believe in me,” he said. Go to that place in your heart that wants to barter for love and turn it inside out. Stop bartering for love and just believe you are loved. It can feel impossible.
 
Paul talked about his mixed motives, “I do not do the good I want to do,” he said.
 
I I find it comforting to know that God doesn’t judge us for our the mixed motives. He knows they come from broken hearts. He doesn’t judge our hearts, but mends them instead.
 
 

Comments (9)

  • This is one of my favorite messages. I find young adults need to hear this often when over self-evaluative. Before I really began to walk with Christ (almost 40 years ago) , I joined a huge church choir partly because the choir director was young, single and good-looking! But he got married and I got married to Christ! There were many times I really felt my motives were pure, but hindsight, years later, I saw they were not. Yes, I’m so thankful for the great, gracious, understanding, loving heart of God! “He takes our mixed motives and works with them.” Hmmm….if we want to be like Him, we need to do the same. Thanks for this reminder, Seth!

  • Good word. God the one who works with us in our brokenness to bring us to himself. This is also a wonderful example of how we should disciple others on their journey.

  • Great word, Seth. Praise the Lord that he takes us and works with us no matter where we are along the journey!

  • Thanks Seth. This is a good reminder. I think the qualifier is that even with “mixed motives” there has to be some God discerned sense of the leading of a heart. People who commoditized faith in the temple, for example, were not extended much grace in the moment. I like the story of the Apostle Paul who was passionate for orthodoxy but totally wrong. God shattered his shackles and that same passion was turned loose in the right direction.

    Blessings friend…

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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