Have you ever been guilty of practicing performance based Christianity?
If your answer is, “Yes,” you are not alone! Yesterday as I was vacuuming my bedroom, I thought back to all the times I had asked my son to vacuum his room. He is now 20, married and out of the house so I like to remember when he was little – time goes too fast! He would vacuum, not because he wanted a clean floor, but because I had asked him to vacuum; sometimes he did it so fast I wondered whether the vacuum picked up much of anything! I was working slowly as I reminisced, and I was repeatedly going over certain areas to get as much dust, dirt and hair as I could off the floor. I had a different motive than my son did – I wanted a clean carpet – but more than that I wanted a nice, clean house for my husband to come home to.
We can have different motives for serving God too. We might give of our time at church because someone asked us to. We might give of our finances because it’s “the right thing to do.” We might even visit prisoners and pray for the sick in hospitals because the Bible says to do that, and we are taught to do what the Bible teaches us to do. At the root of many of these obligatory acts of service is a heart motive that is trying to earn approval from God and man by its works.
Though I was grateful that my son would do what I asked him to do, the fact that his motive was simply doing it because he had to DID have an effect on the end result. Could he check it off his list? Yes. Did he get it done? Yes, but his bedroom floor probably wasn’t much cleaner than when he started. When we do things for God simply because we feel obligated, or because we feel it is owed to Him, or that it will gain us His approval or man’s approval – it will have an effect on the end result!
I like how The Message Bible says it,
“Don’t just do what you have to do to get by, but work heartily, as Christ’s servants doing what God wants you to do. And work with a smile on your face, always keeping in mind that no matter who happens to be giving the orders, you’re really serving God.” ~ Ephesians 6:6-7 ~
If we are just doing what we have to do to get by, we are serving from a works-based, performance-based, law-based heart motive – and it is self-serving rather than God-serving. Our motive is an earthly reward: people seeing our “goodness,” God accepting us, or being praised for our works. It’s all about us.
On the other hand, when we serve with joy, with a smile, and with excellence, we are serving from a LOVE-based heart motive, and it is others-centered, and it is God-honoring! Our motive is love: seeing others blessed, adding value to the businesses we work for or the clients we serve, people being healed, delivered, and set free as we prepare a place for them to come and worship. The awesome part is that when we don’t seek an earthly reward, God gives us a heavenly one:
“All good deeds are gifted back from the Lord...” ~ Ephesians 6:8 ~ (The Voice)
“Good work will get you good pay from the Master…” ~ Ephesians 6:8 ~ (The Message)
“You know that the Lord will reward every person who does what is right…” ~ Ephesians 6:8 ~ (CEB)
“Knowing that for whatever good anyone does, he will receive his reward from the Lord…” ~ Ephesians 6:8 ~ (AMP)
This week, pay attention to why you do what you do – whether it be caring for your children, serving in your church, cleaning your house, working – whatever it is, give yourself the litmus test. Am I doing this with real joy? With a sincere smile? With excellence? If not, check your love levels! It may be that you need to spend some time basking in God’s love so you do all you do with a right heart, one that God is ready to reward!