I’ll have you know that some of today’s message is taken from a Bible study lesson given by my husband, Barry. Well, honestly… I’ve completely stolen his entire message. But since we are one, and what is his is mine and vice versa, is it really stealing? Smile and say no😊
I think he’s an amazing teacher and I love the way he lights up when he speaks about God’s Word. Kudos to you babe! You did an awesome job! Without further delay, let’s jump into the message.
About four years ago, my husband was wanted by the police. Yeah, I know… crazy, right? I remember the phone call I received from him while at work. He told me he was headed to the Greenville Police Station to turn himself in—or clear his name. He was wanted for a bank robbery.
Prior to the bank robbery, Barry owned a 1996 Caprice Classic that he lent to his cousin. “Lent” being the operative word. He never officially sold the car to his cousin, so, the title remained in Barry’s name. But as time went on, that cousin must’ve assumed the car was his as he sold the car to another cousin. Then that cousin sold the car to someone else and that someone else decided to rob a bank in that ’96 Caprice Classic. The same bubble Caprice that was still attached to my innocent husband’s name.
Now, of course, neither he nor I was aware that he was wanted by the Greenville Police for this robbery. But thank God for true friends. The investigating officer had done some research and called one of our fellow church members to get a better feel of their prime suspect.
This dear friend will remain nameless, but he told the officer that he had the wrong guy. He insisted that there was no way Deacon Barry would’ve robbed a bank. He immediately phoned Barry and told him to go clear his name since the officer had threatened to kick our door open otherwise.
When Barry went to the police station, he was sweating bullets. If it isn’t obvious from the picture above, my husband is black, as am I. And as unfortunate as it may be, black people in America—especially black men—don’t have the best interactions with cops. We both feared he may be detained before he could explain… or worse.
Yet as it went, the officer heard Barry out. After Barry’s spill, the officer told him he was no longer a suspect. Not just because of his explanation, but because the officer concluded Barry had no motive. He was a hard-working man with a full-time job, a wife, and small child. Why? Why would he rob a bank? He had too much to lose.
They realized he didn’t have a reason to throw his life away on a senseless crime. The “why” mattered in the cop's investigation. My husband's motives mattered. and the cop's consideration of the “Y” factor exonerated him. Just as motives mattered to the investigating officer, motives also matter to God.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
(Matthew 7:21-23 NIV)
You evildoers? How can prophesying in the Lord’s name be done by someone evil? How can driving out demons and performing miracles be completed by evildoers? These acts by themselves are good. Great even. But motives matter. They couldn’t have done these great works from a pure servant’s heart. I reckon they did it for their own glory or selfish ambition…
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
(Galatians 5:19-21 NIV)
Can I be transparent here? Barry admits that this lesson spawned from a conversation we had. I confessed to him that I needed prayer. I hate to admit it, but my pride longed to hear my audience clap for my articles—to like, love, and share my social media posts. My ego wanted readers to love my books and for their comments and/or book reviews to reflect their appreciation of my efforts.
My pride wasn’t always there but it had somehow crept in and tainted my motives. I knew I had to kill my flesh. I asked God to allow the Holy Spirit to help me because I couldn’t do it by myself. I’d tried and failed. I didn’t know how to not want recognition. Society molds us to want it. From AB Honor Roll ribbons given to us as children to receiving Employee Appreciation accolades as adults, we are trained to want and expect praise.
But we know that all praise, honor, and glory belong to God. And whenever we operate in ministry, or life for that matter, it should be for Christ alone. If there is anything driving our motives besides doing the will of the Father and bringing others to Him, then we are workers of iniquity.
So, I wept, repented, and fasted (would’ve rend my clothes and poured ashes on my head too if I could have). And since God is all-knowing, He knew I was sincere in wanting to literally tear my clothes in illustration of my repentance. So, He sent me a message. The following morning after I cried with a broken and contrite spirit, the Bible app verse of the day was…
And rend your heart, and not your garments and turn unto the Lord your God
Whew! Ain’t He alright! My God told me exactly what I needed to do. This thing is about the heart! Our motives, the “Y” factor, is all about what’s in your heart. God purposed to destroy the entire world in the days of Noah because of the condition of mankind’s hearts.
The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.
(Genesis 6:5 NIV)
God cares about what’s in the heart. Our motives must be pure. Proverbs 4:23 tells us to guard our hearts because everything we do flows from it. I read over in Philippians 2:20-21 where the Apostle Paul said he had no one like his mentee Timothy to show genuine concern for the body of Christ. He said, “for everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.”
Out of all those who preached Jesus, Paul didn’t find many who preached Jesus for the sake of Jesus alone. Many had some additional ulterior motive woven into their “why”. This lets us know that the hearts of men are indeed deceitful and evil just as Jeremiah 17:9 states.
The heart, the motive, the why factor will be the destruction of many of us. Yet, the heart will also be the elevation of others. For King David was chosen as the anointed leader of Israel because he had a “heart after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14).
This is a call to all. Check your why. Check your motives. Check your heart in everything that you do. Why are you serving? Is it to be seen? Why do you believe? Is it so God will bless you? Why do you pray? Is it only for you and yours?
If you see any wicked way in you after self-examination, ask God to send His Holy Spirit to kill any selfish ambition that you may have (I know I am!). Ask Him to create in you a clean heart and give you the motives of a servant for Christ. That way you’ll look more like Jesus who being in very nature God, did not consider His equality with God, rather He take on the nature of a servant (Philippians 2:6-7).
I cannot hear “Depart from me” from my Creator on Judgment Day. I refuse. My husband concurs, which is why he composed this message. It weighed on him. It weighed on me. We must get it right y’all. And with the help of the Holy Spirit, we will overcome and have upright hearts. Let’s end in a word of prayer.
Father, I am thankful for your Son Jesus for giving us the opportunity to come before you with our petitions through His sacrifice on the cross. We come to you asking for forgiveness of our sins. Send your Holy Spirit to create the right motives in our hearts. Steer us back in the right direction when we go astray. Help us decrease so that you may increase. We acknowledge you as both Lord and Savior of our lives and may you be the only “Y” in our hearts. In Jesus’s name I do pray, amen.
That’s all you guys. I hope you have an amazing day and week. Until next time, be blessed! And take care.
Quin Arrington's books are available on Amazon at www.amazon.com/author/quinarrington