Everyone is motivated by something. Perhaps the motivation is to improve a skill, to make more money, to take care of family or friends, to serve in any number of ways, etc. Motivation is a powerful tool and can be both positive and negative depending upon the situation. However, our motivations ultimately expose something far deeper – our character. We may be able to accomplish a great deal while hiding our true motivation. We may even be able to fool others around us for a while. However, our character will be revealed eventually.
Today, we begin a series on 2 Samuel. This sermon series coincides with the Sunday School lessons although we will be behind for the first couple of weeks. This week’s message will look at the motivations of a few different participants in the story that begins this second book of Samuel. What we find is very different motivations revealing very different people because of the very different character within each person or group involved.
Our story begins with the news of Saul’s death. The news is brought by a foreigner and is received by David who mourns, as do the other men who were with him. After David laments, he is crowned as king of Judah and immediately honors the men responsible for finding and burying Saul.
Some People Are Motivated By Reward (2 Sam. 1:1-10)
Receiving a paycheck or even a “Thank you” can be a powerful motivator for some. But do we labor honestly or do we cut corners? Or worse, do we manipulate the situation to appear in our favor? In the end, someone will know and we will be exposed.
- Compare the true account in 1 Sam. 31:1-6.
- The messenger stole the king’s crown and armlet, then lies in hopes of a reward
- Result: The man was killed for displaying a faulty character
Some People Are Motivated By Respect
Certain positions and titles deserve a certain measure of respect. A person who truly respects others will be respectful of those above them (even if we rightfully should have the position (e.g. David), will lead others to be respectful, and will honor those who may have a lesser status, but respect those whom we respect as well.
A. David (2 Sam. 1.11-16)
- David consistently honored the king (cf. 1 Sam 24, 1 Sam 26)
- Some of the men with David (vv. 11-12) may not have respected Saul, but they mourned with David because they respected their leader
- Result: David was honored by God for his moral character
- Risked their lives to care for the dead the bodies of Saul and his sons
- Fasted in humility because of the loss of their king
- Result: Men were blessed by David because of their loyalty to Saul
All People Are to be Motivated By Love (Mark 12:30-31)
In the mid-1980s, Tina Turner sang a song entitled, “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” The song was about the physical aspect of a relationship overriding the need for love which is referred to as “a second-hand emotion.” Many people may feel that way about love, but God doesn’t. Love is not an emotion, it is an action. And God commanded us to love.
Whatever our reasons for living, ultimately, we are to be loving. Whether, or not, we receive some type of reward for our labors, or whether we are able to respect others, the greatest of all commands is to love God which requires us to also love others.
- Our love for, and service to, God will bring Him glory. (Matt. 5:16)
- Our love for, and service to, others provides a tangible expression of God’s mercy. (Luke 6:35-36)
- Result: Loving in obedience to Christ shows we are truly followers of Christ. (John 13:34-35; 14:15)
Do your actions reveal your true motivations?
Our motivation reveals our character. It has often been said that we should guard our reputation, but reputation is what others think of us, whereas our character is who we really are. Consider that Jesus did not have the best of reputations (He associated with the tax collectors and sinners), but His character was impeccable.
Those who follow Christ must make sure our character and motivation are in sync. When this happens we live and serve through love which honors God and brings Him the glory. Ultimately, when we seek to honor God, we will eventually be honored ourselves – just as David was. On the other hand, when our motivation is selfish, we may hide the truth for a while, but eventually we will be exposed, just as the man was who brought King Saul’s possessions to David.
The JOURNEY letter for this week is: O – OBSERVE.
That observance starts with obeying the command to love one another, to love others, and ultimately to love God. Everything we do should be motivated by love. Sometimes we can find love motivating us to care for a loved one or because of the bonds of friendship, but if we are honest, being motivated by love is not easy most of the time. Why? Because it is tiring and some people are tiresome. But God could feel the same way about us, and He chose to love us instead.
LOVE: So, this week, do at least one thing purely from the perspective of love. Maybe you will do more than one thing, but if you start with one, you should find it easier to repeat the process. If you want a bigger challenge, make that one act of love towards someone that you might ordinarily choose not to love. In doing so, you will truly fulfill the Great Commandment.