Posts Tagged ‘Means’

You’ve heard the saying, the end justify the means. You sit in a planning meeting and hear all we need is to get those numbers up. We need to lift that profit margin. Get more people involved in our ministry. Raise the tithing bar. You are a bit nervous about how to go about this. But someone asks, what does it matter how we get things done if we get them done? If the end goal is to fulfil the great commission does it matter how we get there? If the aim is to send out workers does it matter how we recruit people? If we want to resource mission work do the means we use matter if missionaries have something in their pockets?

Sometimes the questions are a bit more subtle than that? If the end goal is to disciple people do my own personal interests matter? Say I earn a living and grow my status while building the kingdom. Can I use my competitiveness to get more people involved in Gospel ministry? Use my jealousy to fuel more initiatives for the Gospel? These are difficult questions to deal with. Questions that confront our motives at a deeper level. Questions we might need to ask more frequently.

But however we answer those questions James in his letter tells us motives actually matter. We cannot do God’s work with evil motives. To our surprise, he says we could be doing the devil’s work in the name of fulfilling the great commission. More than that he says motives will shape the end goal more than we imagine. Listen to this;

14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

Just think about the implication of these verses. James is saying if our motives are wrong then our work is fueled by earthly, unspiritual and demonic interests. The power is from Satan, not God. In addition, he says we won’t get the results we hoped for. The end goal will be disorder and evil practice. This means if I train people because of my desire to make a name for myself that will affect how I train them. God might still work despite my actions but my means and attitude will still shape the end result. If we send missionaries to build our profile as a church then we might do a good job on the one hand but the results won’t be as pure as we might imagine. If we train people to outdo another entity or redirect resources our way then our results will be tainted. For those involved in one on one discipleship, the effects are even worse. We will raise disciple-makers who are jealous, competitive and selfish. We will use the word of God and talk about Jesus but under the surface, we will have created a monstrously demonic “Gospel” army.

We need to evaluate not only where we want to go but also what gets us there. James says Gospel faith is not something we leave in our minds, it ought to flow into our hearts and shape our actions. Our faith in Jesus needs to inform what we do with our lives. But that’s not the end, we need to lay down our selfish intentions to be shaped by Gospel motivations. If we truly seek to do God’s work then we have to use God’s means and attitude. Our motivations cannot be earthly and expect the fruit to be spiritual. What we sow in our motivation is what we reap among those we disciple. If we want to build God’s kingdom, reach more with the Gospel and disciple our young people we need to use God’s means. We need God’s grace and godly attitude to fulfil God’s mission. In conclusion James says:

17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

This might slow our speed and call us to do more soul-searching but it will guarantee faithfulness in our discipleship. In the end, we will not only do more but we will build better godly foundations. We won’t just have Gospel workers who can teach others but those who are considerate in their conduct. Men and women full of mercy and bearing good fruit in their lives. Sincere pastors. Peace-loving husbands. Submissive wives. Impartial teachers. Motives matter because we need God’s means to do God’s work. And the way to do this is to ensure we are sitting to be discipled even as we disciple others. We need to submit ourselves to rebuke and correction from the word and the church fellowship. We must constantly evaluate what is in our hearts and lay it down at the cross. We need to kill sin in us before we infect others with our idols.

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