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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What's Your Motive?

My son occasionally asks me questions about Heaven: “Will my toys be there?” “Will our dog be there?” “Will there be swimming pools?” “Will our house be there?”

“Of course those things will be in Heaven,” I used to say. “It wouldn’t be Heaven without it, would it?” My imagination bridged the gaps, creating my own personal Heaven. In my Heaven, I envisioned a resplendent farmhouse nestled in rolls of majestic mountains surrounded by God’s perfect nature. I was surrounded with all the treasures with which God had awarded me. And there would be many treasures – after all, I would have lots of service tally marks to trade for my treasures.

How do you envision Heaven, and what is your motive when you are serving God? Are you, like I was, collecting tally marks that you hope to trade for treasures in Heaven? Deuteronomy 10:12 reads, “What does the LORD your God require from you, but to… serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” Your desires to serve may be authentic, but could your motives be tainted?

In the book Room of Marvels by James Bryan Smith, the main character gets a sneak peek of his home in Heaven. Inside, he discovers a wall filled with tiny pictures of people. As he touches each picture, the person talks to him, sharing how he spiritually impacted them during his time on Earth.

I began to view my opportunities to serve as tiny pictures hanging in my ever-expanding mansion being built in Heaven. God’s Word does not promise material abundance in Heaven, but my human do-more-get-more experience had tainted my expectation of Heaven. The more pictures I could collect, the bigger my house would be.

Last summer, my overloaded schedule was burying me. A tragic realization gripped me: my heart was not joyful, it was burdened. I was scattered and without focus, and I had reached my breaking point. I didn’t know who I was doing it all for, but it wasn’t God. It was time for me to listen to God’s expectations of me instead of following my own expectations of what I wanted Heaven to be. With God’s guidance, I adjusted my areas of service and refined my motives for serving.

How do you feel about each area in which you serve? Is it a joyful experience, or is it one more thing to scratch off of your to-do list? Are you well prepared and excited when you arrive, or are you rushing in at the last moment, scrambling to prepare your materials? Do you thank God for giving you the opportunity to serve and grow His kingdom, or do you thank Him that it’s over? Are you instilling a spiritual lesson in your life or someone else’s life, or are you making no spiritually significant impact in anyone’s life? Are others inspired by the way the Holy Spirit works through you, or would they describe you as bored, exhausted, or fake? Finally, what is God telling you? He will tell you where He wants you to serve Him. Be quiet and hear Him, then do what He says, and do it joyfully.

Search your heart, and determine if your motives are kingdom-serving or self-serving. Are you fascinated with worldly materials? Evangelist Leonard Ravenhill said, “Is the world crucified to you tonight or does it fascinate you?” If the world fascinates you, consider if you are expecting Heaven to materially fascinate you as well. If so, your motives for serving may need to be adjusted.

I have changed the way I answer my son’s questions about Heaven now. “I don’t know if those things will be in Heaven,” I say, “but I do know we spend our entire earthly lives anticipating Heaven. And I am certain that once we get there, we will never miss the things we left behind.”

What's your motive? And how do you ensure your motives stay pure and untainted?


  1. Shar said...

    Wow. I loved this! I don't know what else to say. Great post Karen. Keep them coming.

  2. Stephanie Faris said...

    Well put. I never thought about the difference between wanting to serve in Heaven and just wanting to be surrounded by the beauty. The latter is human nature but it's also very selfish and earthly.

  3. Warren Baldwin said...

    I agree with the others - good post!

    I am memorizing Psalm 86:11 - a good verse about keeping our focus right. This was a memory challenge on another blog (pathfromtheheadtotheheart - you can see it on my blog in the comments section. Chrystie has a good blog!)

    Reading your post made me thing of this verse - teach me your way ... give me an undivided heart that I may fear your name. What a statement about purity of motives!

    We had a good time in the Nashville area - it was actually Lewisburg. Although I didn't enjoy spending 3 1/2 hrs on the side of I-65!

    Again, good post.

  4. Karen said...


  5. warrenjc said...

    Reminds me one of my latest blogs "The Little Brown Cardboard Box." Mine, maybe not so much thinking of heaven but what we do down here to get there. What will survive the refiners fire. When we get to heaven, will we get our reward or will everything be burned up in the fire. So in a way we're just about on the same page. I guess what we do down here and for who, will dictate what heaven will be like for all of us individually. Good food for thought Karen. GBY and yours. Keep writing.

  6. Stephanie Faris said...

    I gave you an award on my blog today!

  7. Mary @ The Writer's Block said...

    Great job. Found your blog through Steph in the City. Am enjoying looking around. Noticed you are reading Wild Things. David Thomas (one of the authors) is a good friend of mine; have known him since kindergarten! Looking forward to reading more!

  8. Kim Kasch said...

    Heaven is a wonderful thing to think about. The Shack was a good read to get my head in that perspective of seeing the horizon with new eyes.

  9. Kim Kasch said...

    Plus, that Writing Loft looks like a little slice of Heaven on Earth :)


    just wanted to thank you for joining my blog SPEAKING FROM THE CRIB. love yours ... you say all the things i feel in my heart but don't know how to express! thanks again! kelly

  11. Smile Awhile said...

    I love the song 'Imagine' by Mercy Me, because Heaven is a mystery as well as our behavior! Several years ago, I received my own revelation on this very subject and since then, I always hope that when God gets a whiff of me, he finds me acceptable!! A lot of people are going to be surprised when it is time to travel on over to the other side. Good blog, made me dust off the Bible! Smile.

  12. Anonymous said...

    Very good stuff..