Wednesday, February 8, 2023
2 Peter 2:3 (NLT) “In their greed they will make up clever lies to get hold of your money.”
Today Peter addresses another of the characteristics of false teachers and false churches – the issue of motivation. It’s a topic we don’t always enjoy looking at in our own lives. We prefer to be graded on our performance not our motives. We insist on hiding the depths of our heart to impress others and earn their approval with external appearances. We even intentionally choose wrong motives thinking that other people will be shallow enough to only see the action and reward us. Many times – more than we probably choose to admit – we are motivated by greed – that deep desire for personal benefit.
For example, many years ago, some vandals cut down six royal palms along Miami’s Flagler Street. Since the palms were very expensive, Dade County authorities weren’t sure if they could replace them very soon. But then someone donated six more and even had them planted. The old ones had been about fifteen feet tall and provided a nice foreground for a “Fly Delta” billboard. The new palms were thirty-five feet tall—completely hiding the sign. The new donor: Eastern Airlines.
Or what about the motivation of making oneself look good to others? We tend to talk down about others. Sometimes we go on and on talking about the flaws of others and the only real reason is because we think it will improve our own status or image in someone’s eyes. But nothing makes a long story short like the arrival of the person you happen to be talking about. At that moment we have proven that our motivation was not for their benefit but for ours.
M. Scott Peck writes, “Utterly dedicated to preserving their self-image of perfection, they are unceasingly engaged in the effort to maintain the appearance of moral purity. They worry about this a great deal. They are acutely sensitive to social norms and what others might think of them…. They dress well, go to work on time, pay their taxes, and outwardly seem to live lives that are above reproach.
“The words “image,” “appearance,” and “outwardly” are crucial to understanding the morality of the evil. While they seem to lack any motivation to be good, they intensely desire to appear good. Their “goodness” is all on a level of pretense. It is, in effect, a lie. That is why they are the “people of the lie.”
“Actually, the lie is designed not so much to deceive others as to deceive themselves. They cannot or will not tolerate the pain of self-reproach.”
Before we even begin to talk about the motivation of money, which we will do tomorrow, we would all benefit from some personal introspection today on this issue of “image consciousness” and the power of its motivation in our lives. We must not be apathetic about this. It has become one of the strongholds of Satan in our lives, and He uses it daily to keep us from becoming truly surrendered to Jesus and effective as His servants. We must crucify daily the desire to please self and build self-worth. We must take up our cross and follow Jesus as people of integrity – people who are real and true to the core.
We would all benefit from following the advice of Albert Einstein, who said, “Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value.”