Monday, March 31, 2008

How do you evaluate your life?

These are a few thoughts that I shared recently with the staff team at Ridge Church.

How do you evaluate your life?

Before you ignorantly admit that you don't evaluate--track with me because we all have some form of evaluation process whether informal, formal, unintentional or intentional. (some more than others, I'll admit!). I think most of us would agree that we evaluate our lives largely based on our "activity"---what we do, what we did, what we are planning on doing. Right or wrong, it's largely how we define success. That is definitely how most of us are evaluated at our jobs, right? This year's sales volume, or productivity should exceed the previous year. If you are an athlete or a "wanna be", you want to score more, lift more, hit further, run faster, win more, right?

So, we are all tempted to apply this same "activity evaluation" in all areas of life including the spiritual side where we relate to God, and it's a slippery slope. It's a high stakes approval game that ends in disaster every time. AND ironically with God it isn't even necessary, because his approval of us has absolutely nothing to do with our "activity."

Here's the thought:

What if instead of evaluating life, and our relationship to God based on "activity" we evaluated life based on the "motivations" for the actions. Not as much about WHAT I did but more about WHY I did it. Interestingly in the New Testament we find lots of people around Jesus that did "good" even "noble" things like: giving to the poor, living upright lives, praying, reading Scripture---yet we often see Jesus unimpressed and even chastising them because their MOTIVES are wrong. Interesting right? They had good activities (like many of us), but the motives were off center.

Paul addressed this idea with a question. "Am I trying to win the approval of men or God?" It is a simple but piercing question. At every turn or decision of life, with this question as the filter "Am I trying to win the approval of men or God?" our motivation will be revealed every time. We might be surprised at what this question, when asked often, and answered honestly reveals about us. Try it out.

I haven't unpacked it all yet, but I do know that tons of RIGHT activities with WRONG motives are still off center from the full life--best life God intends for us. So when you bump into a situation this week, ask this simple question as a diagnostic for your motives: "Am I trying to win the approval of men or God?"

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