The Godly and Pure Motivations for Ministry
To serve God, love is a fundamental and indispensable requirement. Any servant of the Most High God must first seek to glorify the One they represent. The word glorify is from the Latin glorificare and translated as “make visible or illuminate with splendor.” For the disciple to glorify God, God must be manifested in his personal life, his conduct, his words and deeds, his sentiments and motivations. In his first epistle, the apostle John defines God’s nature as follows “God is love, and he who dwells in love dwells in God, and God dwells in him.” Therefore, all disciples of Christ must walk in love in order to be the Lord’s true representatives.
The “new commandment” to the disciples to love one another as Christ himself loved them, to love one’s neighbor as oneself; and to even love one’s enemies, is the ultimate test for a disciple to show God’s very nature and display his personal love for the Father and the Son (John 13:34-35; John 15:9-10; John 14:15, 21-24; Matthew 5:43-48; Luke 6:27-36; 1John 5:2-3).
– Christ’s Love for His Father
The motivations of Christ’s show his deep desire to please his heavenly Father in all things. Because of his love for his Father, He obeyed all God’s commandments and accepted his humiliating death on the cross as the Lamb of sacrifice. In so doing he received the supreme honor as the Great High Priest of the New Covenant sealed by his blood, and became responsible for the heavenly sanctuary (Philippians 2:1-8; 1Peter 2:19-25; John 14:30-31; John 17:25-26; Hebrews 7-.8). In complying in all things with God’s will, Jesus gave the perfect example for all disciples to follow.
– The Case of the Disciple Simon Peter
In chapter 21 of John’s Gospel (verse 1 to 17), Christ revealed to Peter and to us as well the fundamental requirement for ministry. This passage detailed the persistence of Jesus as He questioned Peter about his personal love for Him. “Simon son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?” His insistence was not to express doubt about the veracity of Peter’s love for him nor to confuse his disciple, but to inform Peter that service must be the expression of his personal love for his Master. Many times in a disciple’s life, this love will constitute the only sustaining force that would cause him to endure painful times, hardships and great sacrifices. “Peter, (if) you love me, feed my sheep.”
– Peter’s Maturity and Faithfulness in the Care of the Sheep
In his first letter, addressing church elders and pastors, Peter endeavored to explain perfectly the qualifications and motivations, which all ministers must cultivate as leaders. His counsel showed full maturity and excellent understanding of the pastor’s office (see 1Peter 5:1-4). Undoubtedly, he fulfilled his call; and testified to this effect this way:”Yea, I think it fitting, as long as I am in this tabernacle to stir you up by putting you in remembrance” (2Peter 1:13). Therefore, because of HIS LOVE for the Lord Jesus, Peter remained faithful to his vocation and demonstrated genuine kindness for Christ’s sheep and an admirable sense of duty and responsibility. He is an early disciple that grew to become a mature and awesome witness of the Christian faith. Today one cannot talk about Christianity without mentioning this Great Apostle, a leader among the disciples, a Giant and Martyr of the Faith.
– Ministry: The Expression of the Disciple’s Love
Paul, Silas, Epaphroditus, Epaphras, Timothy, Titus are positive examples of disciples motivated by love (Romans 9:1-3; 2Corinthians 5:13-16; Philippians 2:25-30; Philippians 4:18; Colossians 4:12). These witnesses of Christ from the early church were truly committed to their Master, and literally some of them gave their life for Christ. On the other hand, Jonah, a great prophet of the Old Testament, was a servant who challenged the sovereignty of God and even question God’s love and mercy for the enemies of Israel. Because of disobedience, the prophet almost lost his life and salvation; rescued after his repentance in the depth of the abyss, Jonah promised to obey God’s commands, however he still refused to minister in divine love that was required. Subsequently, he was shown that God is a God of love and mercy and all lives are precious to him, not just the lives of those for whom Jonah cares about. One must remember that Christ is the manifestation of God’s infinite love for man, and ministry ought to be the expression of one’s personal love for his heavenly Father, for his Savior and ultimately for his fellow men created in the image of God (Matthew 5:43-48; John 3:16; Romans 5:8; Ephesians 2:4-5; Jonah 1:1-3; Jonah 2:1-11; 4:1-11; 2 Timothy 2:3-10).
c) Divine Reward
For some, divine reward should not constitute a motivating factor to serve God. They argue that God has given to the believer everything by grace in Christ, especially eternal life, forgiveness and free access to heaven. Why then should one desire more? This argument apparently shows humility and gratitude; however it is rooted in ignorance and does not consider either divine or human nature. In addition, it discards all revelation of Scripture. For others, looking for compensations must never be a motivating factor, for they argue the ministry in itself gives great prestige and much satisfaction, which must suffice for all conscientious and grateful servant of Christ.
Initial analysis seems to lend merit to these thoughts. God’s calling is truly a great honor and privilege. Furthermore, the satisfaction from ministering to others is a great source of joy particularly when ministry is well received and produces fruit. Paul wrote about such to the Thessalonians: “But now, when Timothy came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and love, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you; therefore brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith, for now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord. For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy with which we joy for your sakes before our God (1Thessalonians 3:6-9). Paul writing to the Philippians also mentioned as a source of joy his works for the Lord, and invited the saints of Philippi to rejoice with him, even in the midst of hardship and painful persecutions “Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy and rejoice with you all. For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me” (Philippians 2:17-18).
– Divine Reward: A Godly and Pure Motivation
It cannot be denied, that all good things that a disciple may have is by God’s grace and that honor, privilege, favor with men and even joy are actually byproducts of all true ministry (James 1:16-17; 1Corinthians 15:10). Nonetheless, all answers and revelations about motivation for service must be patterned after Christ who is our principal model in all things. Now, to thoroughly understand divine recompense for ministry, it is crucial for one to put aside all preconceived ideas and all carnal thinking and examine this topic objectively purely from a biblical perspective.
– Was Jesus motivated by divine reward?
The Bible shows with full clarity that Jesus’ ministry was motivated by God’s recompense. This is plainly stated in Hebrews, “Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2). Christ knew what rewards were set before Him and He desired the recompense to the point of enduring the cross and despising shame. In his last prayer, Jesus asked:”O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was” (John 17:5).