Motive Matters

Motives Matter     (Acts 24:24-27)                *Scriptures in NKJV*

Quick recap of Paul:

– The Apostle Paul was in Jerusalem, in the Temple, taking part in a Jewish purification ritual, when some Jews seized him. With false accusations they stirred up a mob, caused a riot, and attempted to kill him. The Roman authorities stepped in to save him.

– The Jews want him killed, but the Roman rulers couldn’t find a crime that he has committed. Certainly nothing worth imprisonment or death.

– To save him from the rioting mob and a murder plot in Jerusalem, Claudius Lysias sent Paul to Governor Felix in Caesarea. Although he hadn’t committed a crime, the Jews could bring their accusations before Felix if they wanted.

– The High Priest showed up to condemn Paul (but the original accusers didn’t show up.) Paul made his defense, no real evidence presented, but Felix wanted to wait a few days to decide, and talk to the Roman Commander who rescued Paul from the mob at first, so Paul was still held as a prisoner.

Read Acts 24:24-27

Motives vs Actions:

– Actions are what you did, motives are why you did it.

– We are “meaning making machines”, and determining motives is usually the first thing we do.

– We will automatically assign negative motives to people’s action, but excuse the motives of dogs.

          – When a person lashes out, we say they are just mean, jealous, spiteful, and malicious.

– When a dog bites, we say it’s the owner’s fault, it was abused, it feels threatened or scared, that’s just what dogs do. We don’t see that people hurt people for the same reasons?

Example: The time a yelled and berated family member on the phone, with dad in the hospital dying, untreated PTSD, and brother diagnosed with kidney failure.

          – My motives were good, but my actions were very wrong!

– I apologized immediately. I knew instantly my actions were wrong. It was not accepted. The motives of everything I had ever done were now being questioned.

– I had to tell them about my PTSD. Then all of a sudden, I was forgiven, and showed care and concern. I only received the sympathy that a wounded animal gets, not that of a beloved family member.

– Wounded people will “bite” you too. It’s worth considering their possible motives for why.

– Is that all it takes? Someone wrongs you and you’re done? What if Jesus did that to you?!

– Tonight, reflect on your own motives and subsequent actions. Consider your response to the actions of other, despite their motives. WHY do you do WHAT you do?

Point #1: Consider Felix’s motives.

Proverbs 21:2, Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts.

– Read Verse 25:

– Felix, “…had a more accurate knowledge of The Way…” (Verse 22), so he already understood what Paul was talking about. Felix was also notably corrupt.

– Felix wife, Drusilla, was Jewish. She understood God’s laws also. She abandoned her husband to marry Felix. She knew what she did was against God’s commands.

– The Bible says he was afraid (of what?) so he sent Paul away. Hearing Paul’s message, Felix and Drusilla clearly felt convicted. The possible judgment of God is scary for the unrepentant.

– He is avoiding biblical truth, because the truth can hurt, and REQUIRE life change.

– Read Verse 26:

          – Felix wants a bribe to release Paul. (Remember, Paul did nothing wrong to be locked up.)

          – “…he sent for him more often…”, every week to hear Paul’s message about Christ.

          – He wanted to be in Paul’s presence, not for the gospel, but to get something for himself.

– Read Verse 27:

– Felix left Paul bound to please the Jews. He wasn’t Jewish. He didn’t believe they were right, but he left Paul in captivity anyways, presumably to maintain favor in their eyes.

– His motives were to please the people around him. His actions were to be unfair to Paul.

– It was more important to look good in front of people, than to live out the truth of God.

Before we judge Felix’s motive too harshly, consider if your motives may be the same:

– Do you find yourself avoiding biblical truth, or picking and choosing what to respond to, because you are afraid of judgement? Knowing that accepting it means you will have to change your choices?

          – Example: Headen, stopped me, didn’t want to believe his dad was in Hell.

          – It’s like dominos. You let the first one fall, you know what else will have to change.

– Do you only meet with Jesus every week (go to church) to get something in return?

– You need job, a spouse, or God to fix something in your life, but once you get what you want, will you stop coming to church, worshiping God, and seeking life in His word?

– Of course you can come to him with your all of your needs, but don’t use God as a talisman, or “good luck charm”, doing all the religious things, superstitiously hedging you bets?

– Everyone of us in here will say that, “We only care what God thinks of us, not the world.”  But do your actions illustrate those motives?

          – Do you act the same around people at work as you do around people at church?

Point #2: Consider Paul’s motives.

– Paul was dealing with false accusations leading to an extended imprisonment, being at the beck and call of a man who has the ability to free him but doesn’t. He preaches to him weekly yet sees no life change in him. Then ultimately gets turned over to a new capture and has to start all over again.

– I’m sure Paul could perceive what was happening with Felix. He was a smart and experienced man.

Paul’s actions in this situation, (what he did and didn’t do), reveal his true motives.

          – Paul DIDN’T complain to his friends, resist Felix’s authority, become offended, or give up.

          – Paul DID stay patient, stay focused on his mission, and preached the honest truth.

          – Felix may have been wasting Paul’s time, but Paul was determined to make it count anyway.

– Paul still preached the honest truth. Your delivery matters!

– Make sure YOU aren’t the reason that someone “rejects” the gospel!

– When your delivery is rude or impatient, with thoughtless timing, meant to put someone “in their place”, or without practicing what you preach, you push people away from salvation.

– They are not really rejecting “the truth”. They are rejecting you! (It’s not a badge of honor!)

– Make sure you are telling them the whole truth.

Example: Telling someone their loved one has died, be direct, stay on topic, and even respectfully blunt. Don’t say things like, “they’ve passed on” , which can give false hope and make it harder for the brain to accept the harsh reality of the truth.

– Honesty about life and death matters actually makes it easier to accept, and less painful long term. Giving them false hope interferes with them finding true hope in Jesus Christ.

– Be honest about the gospel, and the truth. If not, it will be harder for them in the long run.

– You don’t want to lead someone to believe that the commitment is small, or the way is easy, because you take away their ability to “count the cost”. (Example: time shares/Mom&Dad)

– Paul preached the whole truth. Talking about self-control and judgement which are not crowd winning topics. Those living in sin don’t want to hear that stuff, but they need to hear it.

– I bet if Paul changed his message, softened it, he could have been released sooner.

1 Thess. 2:4, But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts.

– What does the outcome here mean for Paul? Felix has wasted a lot of Paul’s time, freedom, and energy, and Paul still remains a prisoner. Was it worth it? Did Felix motives even matter to Paul?

– Paul is not responsible for the outcome, only his own obedience to what God’s has called him to.

– This whole scenario opened doors for him to preach the gospel to an exclusive audience and many people who may never have heard it. God’s plan doesn’t always look the way we think it will.

Point #3: Consider your own motives.

– I am bad with directions, but I know the 2 pieces of information you must have to use a map:

          – Where you want to go, AND where you are now.

          – Without those 2 things, directions are meaningless.

– The Bible can tell you everything you want to know about where you want to be, but if you won’t admit to yourself where you are starting from, and your real motives, you will never get there.

– Here are some verses that can get you recalibrated:

James 4:3, You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.

          – If the motives behind your prayer requests are selfish, don’t expect them to be answered.

Col 3:17, And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

          – Why are you serving, preaching, giving, etc… Why do you serve God?

          – Are you looking to glorify Him, or get glory for yourself?

Matthew 6:1, “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. (Motive???)

Gal. 1:10, For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.

– At some point it will come down to this. You will not be doing yourself or anybody else any good by being a squishy, lazy, and indecisive Christian.

– You won’t be honoring God, who you say you owe your life, and men will not trust or believe your words. That’s why “lukewarm” is worse than hot or cold.

– Read you bibles, pray and seek God’s calling for your life, and recalibrate your true motives!

– Be honest with yourself about WHY you do WHAT you do.

– Make you motive to live for Christ, serve him and honor him in everything.

– The promises of scripture are there for God’s children. Do you want them or not?

– prayer –

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