Why do you do what you do?

If you are a Christian, are you invested in eternally significant lifework? Do you serve God regularly, and if so, why? Some Christians  recognize they have a duty to serve God, so they force themselves to perform Christian-type activities. Some ignore service altogether. Some have a genuine passion for people and feel satisfied in helping them. But others carry lifelong  guilt that they should've and didn't.

Maybe this illustration will give you another motivation to consider:

My dad was a farmer. He was always working in his slow, purposeful way. I can still see his long-legged strides as he went about his constant work with patient enjoyment. As a child, I loved skipping next to him, chattering as I hung on his hand or a belt loop, ready to do whatever he was doing. He would send me on errands--"Run get me that bucket" or "Fill up this feed trough." He taught me to be still and let the cattle come to me. He showed me how to give tender care to the sickest ones and isolate the ones that caused trouble. I had no real love for the cattle or any true understanding of the importance of the work.  I only knew that this was important to my father and he wanted me to help him. I enjoyed it because I wanted to be with him, doing what he was doing. If that relationship had not been healthy, the work would have been drudgery. My motivation was the desire to be with my dad. He would praise me and tell me how much help I was, and I was young enough to believe him.

He's been gone more than 15 years, but my life motivation hasn't changed. My Heavenly Father moves through this world with a steady stride, accomplishing what He has purposed to do. I chatter alongside Him, hanging onto his belt loop with no real understanding of the significance of the work. Sometimes He says, "Run get that one" or "Sit still and let them come to you." He shows me how to give tender care to the sickest ones and what to do about the ones that cause trouble. And because they matter to Him, they matter to me.

It is not the love of the work or even love for people that motivates me to serve God. It's not even that I grasp the significance of what He asks me to do. I just want to be with my Father. If that relationship is not healthy, no amount of work will bring real satisfaction. But when it is, then I want to be where He is, doing what He's doing. I want to see His smile when He tells me He's proud of me. Jesus summed it up at age 12 when he said, " I must be about my father's business." He wasn't happy doing anything else. Neither am I. I hope that's the right motivation, because it's the only one I have.

Endure It Until

How blessed is the man who endures temptation! 
When he has passed the test, 
he will receive the victor's crown of life 
that God has promised 
to those who keep on loving him. James 1:12

What does it look like to "endure temptation?" When we think of temptation, we imagine that we are to run from it and it no longer bothers us. We picture a man glancing at a Playboy magazine on the newsstand and turning away. But this verse seems to imply something else.

In order to endure temptation, there must be a relentless desire to act in a way that does not please God. We don't have to endure something that ends in three minutes. A fleeting temptation to sin does not have to be endured, but rejected. Then it's gone. So what kind of temptations must be endured rather than definitively rejected?

The kinds of temptations described in James 1:12 involve our hearts' desires on the deepest level. You cannot escape your heart. You can close your eyes, you can control your hands, you can decide where your feet go. But you cannot do much about the longings of your heart.

I think this verse was written for people such as those with same-sex attraction. Their heart longs for something which God has forbidden, yet the longings don't go away simply because they want them to. A woman caught in a dead marriage may fall in love with another man, but she is not free to pursue that relationship the way she wants to if she desires to honor God more. She may daily surrender her acts and choices to the lordship of Jesus, but her heart still yearns for connection with a man who meets those needs in a way her husband never did. A man saved from alcoholism may fight the urge to drink for the rest of his earthly life. Every day is a battle with himself as he gives in to God's desire for him rather than the longing of his heart. But it doesn't go away. He must endure it.

Is there a temptation in your heart that you must endure? You see no feasible way to escape it except endurance. You can control your choices and your actions, but your heart may still yearn for something or someone that is forbidden. I think that is the kind of endurance James speaks of. God wants to encourage us that He sees when we endure. He is pleased when we continue to wrestle against our heart's deepest longings without giving in. He promises great reward for all of eternity when we choose to be faithful now.

Stay strong. God does not judge you because of the temptation. He understands and He is cheering for your continued endurance.