Motive in Ministry

January 18, 2021

Monday, January 18, 2021

When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities. And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick (Matthew 14:13-14).

The popularity of Jesus was beginning to wane in Judea and in Galilee. At first He was very popular with practically everyone. But the elders of Israel soon became hostile to Jesus and began plotting His demise. The political leaders were ambivalent toward Jesus after King Herod died. But now Herod Antipas is fearful of, even antagonistic toward Jesus for His preaching and the crowds He drew. The crowds were responsive to the Gospel of Jesus at the beginning, but now they are growing temperamental, impulsive, and flighty. Their draw to Jesus is increasingly selfish and materialistic rather than spiritual.

As this cultural, political, and religious pot was being stirred, Jesus began to withdraw from public life to devote His time and energy in furthering the spiritual development of the disciples. He also needed time to Himself to prepare for the coming crucifixion. This time was precious to Him, and very needful.

When the multitudes around Capernaum heard that Jesus left for the eastern shores of the Sea of Galilee to Bethsaida, they walked the distance (ca. 4 miles), some arriving before Jesus and the disciples. They carried their sick and handicapped with them. John tells us their motives were selfish, After these things Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased (John 6:1-2). Their focus was on physical healing, not spiritual healing.

How much of modern American religious zeal is truly spiritual, and how much is hype? Why do people attend church, large or small? Some come for the ministry of the Word, others for the show, the entertainment, the association, the routine. What are the motives behind some ministers? Some are in it for the money, for the wining and dining, for book sales and/or endorsements. Others are in it to truly minister the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Religion is big business. True Christianity is not.  

There will always be people who take advantage of the Gospel. We need to be sure our motives in ministry are Christ-centered and those we minister to are brought face to face with Jesus. We need to be sure our worship is Christ-centered and not other-centered.

“Father, forgive us for marketing ‘Christianity’ to the point it draws people to us and not to Jesus. Keep our heart, mind, and spirit focused on the work of the Kingdom, not on our own work in our own personal kingdoms. May our motives for service and worship be to praise and honor Jesus alone. Amen.”


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