I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)
In this famous passage from the book of Romans Paul informs us that Christianity is not simply about changing our actions, but that it is also about renewing our mind. Transforming our heart and mind is at the heart of Christianity. This means that not only are we to do what is right, but we are to do it for the right reasons. Our motivations are just as important as our actions.
This is a challenge. I can put on a good face. I can play the part. I can say all the right things, but am I doing it for the right reasons? Are my motivations pure? This is an important question because it helps me know whether I have truly given myself to God. Have I received that heart transplant I so desperately need, or am I simply going through the motions?
Our primary motivation should be love. We are to love God. We are to love our fellow Christians. We are to love all human beings. Love is more than an emotion. It is to truly care for others. Love is more than confession. It is showing kindness and grace. Love is listening. It is going above and beyond what we are called to do. People knew Jesus loved them because he lived it. He not only did what was right, but his motivations were pure also. Jesus was genuine and people recognized this.
Do I just confess my love, or can people see it through my actions? Do I do a good deed so I can check it off the list, or do I truly care about the person I am helping? Why do I make the sacrifices I make? Why do I give my time, energy, and money? Is it out of obligation or is it out of love? The answers to these questions matter a great deal. How I answer these questions tell me whether or not I have a deep rooted faith that will get me through the storms of life. Christianity is about total transformation. It is about changing our lives from the inside out. It is about doing what is right, not so we can say we have done our duty, but because we truly love God and love others.
Christianity is about our hearts and lives being transformed into the image of Jesus in every way. This does not happen overnight. It takes time. Paul describes this transformation in 2 Corinthians.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)
As I go through life it is helpful for me to not only examine my actions, but to also examine my motivations. Motivations are sometimes harder to correct than actions, but Paul tells us that we are not alone in this. The Lord who is the Spirit is helping to transform us into the image of Jesus. If my motivations for doing something are not right, then it is important that I turn to God. I need to turn to God in prayer. I need to turn to his holy word for guidance and direction. I need to spend time in silence. I need to spend time reflecting on my life and the character of Jesus.
If over time my actions and motivations do not look more like Jesus, then I am not going in the right direction. If over time my life does not look more like Jesus, then I need to examine my beliefs because the pure gospel is intent on transforming my life into the image of Jesus. It is my prayer and desire that I look like Jesus more and more each day. Right now I am a cracked pot that is being molded and shaped by a holy and awesome God. I submit myself to him and I hope that people see the image of God in me, and not the cracks that are in the process of being mended.