Our True Motivation

            Pope Urban II started the first crusade by saying, “God wills it!” In John chapter 8, the Pharisees wished to stone the adulterous woman before Jesus because, “the law says it!” However, the Pharisees were truly motivated by their desire to trap Jesus. The Crusades were also driven by unrighteous motivations: the desire to conquer Islamic and pagan lands as well as convert them to Christianity. When God becomes a justification instead of the motivation behind the actions of His children, it leads to sin.

James 1:14-15 says, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” The Pharisees were prepared to kill another human being to disprove Jesus’ testimony. The pope advertised “crusading” as a way to redeem oneself from their sins. Therefore, crusaders subjugated, slaughtered, tortured, and forcibly converted millions to abide with God once again. No matter what age we may find ourselves in, God’s children should be careful because we might be tempted to compare to others and think, “Well I am not as bad as the Pharisees or Crusaders, I’m not physically killing people or anything.”

1 John 3:11-15 states, “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” The author of 1 John is encouraging brothers in Christ to know they will face tribulation for their faith and live peaceably with one another. Romans 12:14-18 broadens the application of living peaceably when it says, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” In John chapter 8, Jesus was teaching the Pharisees righteous compassion. He showed the Pharisees that the way to nurture the woman’s relationship was by recognizing her sin and encouraging her to ”sin no more.”

Likewise, the way to grow with God and display Him to others is by being living examples of His teachings. Colossians 3:14 reads, “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” As we go out into the world as God’s children, we should be reflecting on the motivations behind our actions. If the motivation is not one that God would approve of, then change is necessary. Jesus told His disciples in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Are God and His teachings the true motivation behind your actions?