Give a scalpel to an angry ax-murderer bent on revenge and you’d better watch out. But give that same scalpel to a trained and loving surgeon bent on human healing and you’ve got a different story entirely. The difference is not the scalpel. It’s the heart behind the hand that holds the scalpel.
The difference is motive. And motive, Jesus reminds us, lies behind everything we do in life, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).
So, why do you do what you do – in life and in life ministry? What are your motives?
As you ponder these revealing and humbling questions, let these gospel-centered and insightful words from the book Bold Love1 inspire you.
It is possible to face injustice and suffering and work for its demise as a response to the gospel. The consequence of my injustice has been paid for by His death and resurrection; therefore, I long to see others who are unjust come to taste the humbling delight of His kindness. Or injustice can be fought as a screaming protest to God’s silent inactivity. In fact, the subtlety between the two options may be profound. Both may be involved in working with abused and battered women, protesting against abortion clinics, nourishing children who have been sexually assaulted, and boycotting stores that sell pornography.
The difference may not be easily noted, but in time the energy of hatred versus gratitude will be sensed in those who receive their strength and kindness. One will serve with humble, quiet grace, and the other with angry, demanding assertion. One fights for a General [Christ] who has already won, and the other for a revolution that is in question. One hates injustice, and the other hates the God who has not dealt with the injustice according to our timetable. The latter enters the fray with frenetic, scrambling energy that is busily in control; the former with a centeredness that is strong and compassionate (such as Jesus’ display of wrath in the temple), but that is never inconsistent with a deep concern for the one with whom the battle for justice and love is fought.1
Anyone who’s honest with himself, others, and God, will discover corrupt motives in his own heart. Upon this discovery, you have only a few possible options: (1) try to hide or deny the truth, (2) try to clean yourself up, or (3) come clean with God. The first two options don’t work and actually lead to what the bible calls “slavery” (Galatians 4:9). The third option leads to motive-transformation through a deepening experience of God and His grace to bring soul-freedom, gratitude, humility, and joyful obedience (Galatians 5:1ff).
So, confess your corrupt motives to God! Don’t hide them and don’t try to fix them on your own. Confess them and receive His opulent and free forgiveness in Christ. It is normal – yes, normal - to do this every single day, sometimes several times a day. Because of Christ, God will gush His grace to your heart and will flush vile motives from you, replacing them with beautiful, clean, peaceful, joyful, God-honoring motives. He will transform your ax-murderer motives into loving-surgeon motives so that you can naturally wield the scalpel of His truth with grace and love in life and in the life arena.
1 Bold Love, Dr. Dan B. Allender and Dr. Tremper Longman III, Navpress, 1992, p. 63.