By Danielle Dammeyer
In my personal quiet time, I have been reading through Philippians and have not felt so convicted of sin in quite a long time. Usually when people speak of Philippians, some common themes are joy, peace/anxiety, or the value of knowing Christ, just to name a few. These are all prevalent themes in the book of Philippians, but none of these have stood out to me this time around. This time, I have been bombarded with this question, “What is my motivation?”
I have been on a journey to be a vocational Bible teacher for about 4 years now. I have been pursuing Christian education in my Bachelor’s degree and I am now pursuing my Master’s. I have been working on a blog and gaining vocational experience teaching Bible for children. Soon I will have a Master’s in Christian Education and can then begin pursuing a Ph. D. Then I will finally have all the credentials. I will have ‘all’ the knowledge. I will have more experience. I will have all that I need to be a successful Bible teacher.
This has been my thought process for four years. I wanted more education, more credentials, more success, more recognition, more of anything that would help me be as successful in this field as possible. That is, until the last week or so when I realized that I am exploiting the gospel for my own personal gain.
In Philippians 2:5-8, we read that Jesus, who is God, did not “consider equality with God as something to be exploited” (v. 6). The One who deserved everything, took nothing. He made himself nothing. He made Himself like us. Jesus was so obedient to the Father that He humbled Himself to the point of the most shameful death anyone could endure in this life.
Why? “So that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow” (2:10).
The whole point is that God is glorified. Even the Son of God, who is God, understood that.
Paul fully understands this. While he is sitting in jail, he realizes that there are many people who share the gospel for themselves. In Philippians 1:15-19 we read Paul claiming that there are people who are preaching the gospel out of selfish ambition. We read in Philippians 3:2-6 that Paul himself used to be like this. He lists several of his own credentials like I just did above. But what is his point?
None of it means a thing when compared with the value of knowing Christ.
Does this mean we should stop pursuing more knowledge? Absolutely not. Paul himself spent some time in study before beginning his ministry (Acts 9:19; Galatians 1:17-18).
Should we stop writing blogs, magazines, focusing on social media outreach, speaking at events, etc.? I don’t think that is necessary either.
The point here is our motivation. Am I writing blogs because I just want the views, the sponsorships, and the praise? Or am I writing to encourage others, to lead others to Christ, and to make God’s name great?
I encourage you, brothers and sisters, if you are in the Christian media industry, examine your heart often. Are you preaching the gospel because God deserves it, or because you believe you deserve something?
If you find that you are striving after selfish gain, certainly turn away from that sin, but do not despair. Keep broadcasting the name of Jesus.
What does it matter? Only that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is proclaimed, and in this I rejoice.Philippians 1:18