Motives - The Warrior's Journey®

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“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1)

A famous preacher once said, “It’s not what we do that determines whether our work is sacred or secular, but why we do it.” In other words, our motives determine if our work is truly for God and receives a heavenly reward, or if our work is completely secular and only seeks a reward in this life. In this chapter, Jesus talks about three religious activities that can easily become nothing more than secular practices if they are done from impure motives. They include charitable giving, prayer, and fasting. The impure motives Jesus describes consist of doing things in order to be seen by others.

For instance, a preacher may have a following of thousands. But if he only does his work for earthly rewards – e.g. for the money, the praise of people, or fame – then his work is completely secular. It is not for God and he will receive no reward in heaven.

On the other hand, a young mother may recognize that caring for her baby is a charge from God Himself. She therefore fulfills that responsibility out of love for her baby and from a desire to please God. If this is the case, then her work has become sacred. Consequently, the preacher with impure motives only does the secular. But the young mom, with pure motives, performs the sacred.

How does this apply to life in the military? Well, we’ve all seen those leaders among us who always seek to be visible to their superiors, who seek to impress their commanders, or who calculate every effort to promote themselves. Their work is purely secular. They have not served the needs of their subordinates, the military, or their nation. They have only served themselves.

On the other hand, there are those servant-leaders who view their work as a divine calling. They do their work as one who will someday answer to God. They stand up for the concerns of their subordinates. They sacrifice for the good of the nation. They may even jeopardize their career during a moral crisis when military policy becomes immoral and they voice their disapproval. They may suffer earthly consequences, but their reward in heaven will be great.


Think about your military duties. How can they become sacred? By recognizing God has called you to serve the nation? By making choices that will benefit others, though not yourself? By standing up for what is right, though unpopular?

When does your work deteriorate to something secular?

In Ephesians 6:5-8 and in Colossians 3:22-24 Paul told slaves to do their work for the Lord rather than for their earthly masters, as “men-pleasers.”

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