Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Philippians 1:15–18 (ESV)
Why do we do the things we do? It all goes back to our values and convictions.
All the Right Things for All the Right Reasons
We can do different things for different reasons. I can do the wrong thing for the wrong reasons. I can do the wrong thing for the right reasons. I can do the right thing for the wrong reasons. But my prayer is that I would do the right thing for the right reasons.
We can also do the same thing for different reasons. That was the case above with the verses from Philippians. All were proclaiming Christ. Some did so from envy and rivalry. They were taking advantage of Paul’s situation. They saw Paul’s demise as an opportunity to make a name for themselves. Others proclaimed Christ out of love. They saw the need and were moved to action.
One example where we see people doing the same thing for different reasons is attending worship. People “go to church” for all sorts of different reasons. Some go because they have always gone and have a sense of obligation to go. Others go because they like the music or the sermon. Still, others go for the fellowship and friendship. Some go because they believe it is important to give their children that foundation. Others go because it is an opportunity to make connections and promote themselves. Some go because they are scheduled to serve as a volunteer. Others go to glorify God the Lord and Savior who is worthy of praise.
You see there are all sorts of different motivations as to why people go to church. I am sure there are more than the ones I listed. Some of those reasons are poor. Some of those reasons are decent. And some of those reasons are great. But as a pastor, whatever reason people come, I rejoice that they are there. Regardless of the motivation, God’s Spirit is present where God’s people are gathered. And when God’s Spirit is present, all things are possible.
Do you know why you do things you do? Or are you simply going through the motions? I would encourage you to honestly access your activities in light of your values and convictions. If you are honest with yourself, you may find that you are doing things that go against your values. You may discover that you are not living in integrity. You find yourself in need of repentance and realigning your actions according to your values.
Or you may come to realize that your values are not firm. You tend to allow other people and your circumstances to dictate your priorities. This means you need to figure out what is important so that you have a filter with which to decide and have the courage to make difficult choices.
Knowing our values helps us:
- Make difficult decisions.
- Say “no” to good things so that we can say “yes” to the most important things.
- Navigate and manage change.
- Maintain our integrity.
- Rejoice in persecution and suffering.
In the end, it is important that we identify our convictions, hold firm our values, and navigate our lives according to the principles that God plants deep inside of us. It is not enough just to have priorities, but we need to know why our priorities are so important to us.