It’s true that some here preach Christ because with me out of the way, they think they’ll step right into the spotlight. But the others do it with the best heart in the world. One group is motivated by pure love, knowing that I am here defending the Message, wanting to help. The others, now that I’m out of the picture, are merely greedy, hoping to get something out of it for themselves. Their motives are bad. They see me as their competition, and so the worse it goes for me, the better—they think—for them.
So how am I to respond? I’ve decided that I really don’t care about their motives, whether mixed, bad, or indifferent. Every time one of them opens his mouth, Christ is proclaimed, so I just cheer them on! (THE MESSAGE)
If we waited till our motives were absolutely pure, perhaps we wouldn’t be nearly as fruitful as we might be. Do any of us have utterly pure motives whenever we do something in the name of Jesus? And do our mixed motives negate the work we do or the words we speak?
I may preach a sermon and have some desire to show off but others may still benefit. Someone who sings a song in church may be thinking about her lunch plans as she sings, but you still may be blessed by it. I may involve myself in some ministry in order to boost my flagging ego or to show my demanding parents that I can score some successes in life, and yet that ministry may bear good fruit.
Problems arise when our motives are utterly corrupted, when the demands of power and ego become primary. In time, it is only rotten fruit that appears. And the person doing the work or conveying the message gets no joy, no deep satisfaction, no commendation from God.
And yet as Paul tells us, we need not preoccupy ourselves with the motives of others. God can use their mixed motives and our mixed motives for his good purposes. God doesn’t wait around for the ideal: he works with the reality. It is good and proper to get to work on our motivation, but in the meantime we offer ourselves to God—mixed motives and all.