Spiritually Speaking: Check Your Motives

"For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ" (Galatians 1:10, KJV).

While we are called to be an example to each other, and to serve one another in godly love, we are not called to find our own purpose by trying to adopt someone else'.

Our skills, accomplishments, experiences, and ambitions are not to be compared to those of others around us.

We shouldn't seek to earn the applause or approval from anyone but Christ.

Coney Island Beach (New York)
Philippians 2:3 (ESV) reminds us,"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit..."

Maybe it's a petty example, but vices like social media seem to be piling on the pressure to do "more," convincing us that our lives are dull and meaningless compared to the next guy.

And whether you want to admit it or not, we have all been influenced by that unquenchable craving to get more "likes" or to post the most impressive Instagram or Facebook photo for the week.

Believe me, I get it. NONE of us want to be deemed boring or uninteresting.

I'd be lying if I said I've never tried come up with the catchiest hashtags or that it doesn't make me smile when someone leaves a nice comment on one of my posts.

I'm not against the social media realm by any means--it definitely has its perks and can be used in positive ways. Being an amateur photographer (emphasis on amateur), I enjoy amazing photography, and I love to see inspirational posts on my feed.

But if I kept up this blog for the goal of earning followers and gaining popularity, not only would I be disappointed by the lack thereof, but I'd probably never be satisfied knowing it's the Lord's words, not mine, and that He can and will bless whomever He chooses by it.

John 12:43 (KJV) shines a negative light on those who seek "the praise of men more than the praise of God."

If we aren't careful, our intentions behind what we do may start to aim toward gaining attention and popularity.

We could, and I dare say that based on several current studies many people in society already do, gauge our self-worth and purpose based on what others like, comment, or, now, "react" to.

Some might become envious and covetous of what others have and do and start to discredit what they are already endowed with. Others seem to be affected by boasting or allowing vanity to consume them.

All of these are symptoms of the same disease which occurs when we look outside of our relationship with God and try to please others instead.

 "...man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7, ESV).

Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems like so many of us are stuck in the mentality that we need to be good enough, or something, anything, enough, and that what we have isn't quite cutting it.

We look at extreme sports athletes free-falling out of planes and we think "Man, my life needs more excitement."

We see a picture of a friend who is a nurse, teacher, or missionary aiding others in an inspiring way and instead of saying "God, bless them for what You're doing through them" we might think "I wish I could do something like that so people held a higher regard for me..."

I learned this important lesson early in life: There will always be someone better at something than you are.

ALWAYS.

Whether we're attempting to be worthy of God's blessings or seeking to be acknowledged by the rest of the world, both goals are ill-conceived.

Philippians 4:11 (KJV) "...for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."

Alley in Boston, Massachusetts
When we are dissatisfied with who we are and constantly looking to receive satisfaction through the praise of others, we insult the Lord.

He made us.

He knew exactly when we'd be born, what sign we'd be under, what we'd look like, what environment we'd live in and be shaped by, all the hardships we'd face, and so the list continues.

Yes, we should always strive to improve our character, but not at the risk of denying the very person we are at our core.

God doesn't ask us to change ourselves. He knows His Word and Spirit will transform us when we open our hearts to Him so He can bring out our potential.

We can never earn God's love and admiration. We don't need to. He gives it to us freely.

Thus, if we are working to give praise to anyone, or receive a sense of accomplishment from anyone, shouldn't it be Jesus?

Like John 5:44 (ESV) states, "How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?"

As Christians who have all been rescued by His love, our lives are His.

So, we should all ask ourselves: What drives me? Why do I post or comment what I do? What am I trying to prove?

Is our intention ever solely to cause others to think highly of us? Do we put on a mask for someone else? Is there anything that we say or do in order to simply earn respect of our peers, coworkers, or family members?

Colossians 3:23 (ESV) encourages, "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men."

Here's a challenge for all of us: Let's focus less on making our lives look perfect and "filtered" of all the daily, messy realities that makes life, life, and put more emphasis on leading enriched, fulfilling lives that point to our Author instead of ourselves.

That in itself should be enough inspiration to those around us to observe and desire to serve the same God we claim to serve too.

If we're going to be motivated by or for anyone, let it be the One who gives us life in the first place; let's include Him in everything we do.

If we boast in anything, let's boast in His love.

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:8-10, KJV).

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