Spiritual Formation

Intention: The True Measure of our Service

July 25, 2016

Intention is the heartbeat of the Christian life.  Our motive in serving Christ is equally, if not more so, important than the actual service.  It is possible for the unregenerate man to perform the same external duties and operate in the same peripheral fashion as the saved.  It is also possible for the backslidden individual to so calibrate his life that he runs at the same speed with the zealous.  The difference, however, in their service and performance is motivation. What is the intention, the aim, the overarching drive behind the service?  When you discover that answer you will discover the degree of spirituality in the individual.

Motives and Mechanics

William Gurnall said it like this, “Outward obedience to the law is a road where Jews, Christians, and heathens may be found walking along together. How can we distinguish the Christian from these others?”  He follows his question with this answer, “The motive and goal make all the difference.” Read that again, “The motive and goal make all the difference.”  You see, I can perform the responsibilities of love toward my family, but if my responsibilities are not compelled and moved by love itself then my service is robotic and mechanical.  I can fulfill my assignments as a minister out of sheer obligation to my title, but if I do it without the right motive I am of sounding brass.  I can also engage in spiritual activity in the name of my Lord, but if the name of my Lord is not my all-encompassing motivation then I have stepped into a realm of cold, performance-based piety.

What You Do and Why You Do It

When Christ commissioned Peter to feed His sheep (John 21), He was challenging the motives of Peter.  “Do you love me?” Answering that question in the affirmative is a simple task, but performing your obligations out of that love…well, now, that’s the real challenge.  Do you love me, Simon?  Because if you say yes, then that must be your motive for feeding my sheep.  Or, in other words, your heart of service must beat with godly and loving intention.  Intention is where transformation begins.  It is where service is born.  It is where all the spiritual disciplines of the believer are given life.  Intention, when planted in the soil of the obedient heart, yields a great harvest for the glory of God.

And be certain, God knows our intention.  He sees the unseen depths of our hearts.  He knows the untold secrets of our souls.  He understands the silent thoughts of our minds.  He not only knows what we do, He knows why we do what we do.  And why we do what we do is the full expression of who we are.  My intricate prayer should always be this, “Dear Lord, may what I do be in holy harmony with why I do it.”

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