As a preacher, I frequently deal in the currency of motivation. Part of what I do is attempt to keep fellow Christians and church members motivated to do the work of the kingdom.

Some Christians are highly motivated and rarely need help from me. Others are motivated only to the extent that there’s something in it for them, some tangible reward, usually in the form of trumpet-blowing. Some seem to struggle with motivation at the most basic level. They seem unable or unwilling to do the most basic forms of service. I may push, pull, beg, pressure, and howl, but nothing happens.

Regarding motivation, Oswald Chambers once wrote, “Our Lord never pleaded, He never cajoled, He never entrapped; He simply spoke the sternest words mortal ears ever listened to, and then left it alone.”

Chambers’ comments raise an interesting question: How motivated am I to do what’s right? What really moves me to serve Jesus? Do I really care? I should be careful how I answer. Because, if I must constantly be goaded, pressed, embarrassed, pushed, or shoved before I’m willing to act, it would seem that doing right isn’t my highest priority.

Too many Christians fall into this category. We say we’re followers of Jesus, but we seem awfully casual about the whole thing. We say we want to do right, that we want to serve, but we act only when we’re pushed to the limit.

This may provide some insight into Jesus’ Parable of the Sower (Luke 8.4-8). In the parable, a farmer sows seed on different kinds of soil and, consequently, gets different yields from each soil. Some of the soil is packed down and won’t grow anything. Some of it is shallow, with a layer of rock underneath. Some of it full of thorns. Some of it is good, clean soil. 

When Jesus explained the parable, he said that “the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance” (Luke 8.15). The honest heart is the one who takes the Word of God and simply obeys it. There’s no resistance, no argument, and no excuse.

In other words, honesty is the linchpin of the machinery of spiritual motivation. A dishonest person will never have sufficient motivation to act upon the commands of God. 

If you’re struggling with your motivation to serve God, the first thing to look at is your heart. Are you motivated for the right reasons? Bottom line: Are you honest?