What motivates you? Motive is the underlying cause that spurs us on towards something that we want. How often do we disclose our motivation for the things that we want, or actions that we take, to others? Often times the motive for how we behave can be discerned by ourselves and others. Sometimes others can clearly see our underlying motive, while we seem to be blind to it; we simply don’t know why we behave the way that we do and we just do that action that seems to be of utmost importance to us at the time. And sometimes, we are just skilled enough that no one can determine our underlying motivations.
The ancient playwright Terence once said: “I hold this as a rule of life: too much of anything is bad.” Or is it? It may just depend upon whatever that thing is. In the case of motivation, I see that it can be good and it can be bad. On the good side, I can be motivated to accomplish certain tasks that need to be done; I can be motivated to learn; I can be motivated to help others; I can be motivated to do God’s work. On the bad side, I can be motivated to manipulate people and situations to get what I want; I can be motivated to fit in and conform. In the negative connotations I think that which motivates us points to pride and selfish natures within us. Perhaps in some cases it points to laziness. In all cases, it points to the “I” within us.
When we look at the Bible, we see that God set apart the nation of Israel as His special people. He protects them, He guides them, He rescues them, He provides for them, He blesses them. He tells them “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3). God is the ultimate benevolent King, and He is the King over Israel. For leadership, God places His chosen godly people in the form of “Judges” – leaders that God gives to His people for preservation against their enemies. However, even with the Judges in the role of authority over the nation, God is still the King, and for Israel everything points to God.
So now fast forward with me to the book of 1 Samuel. God appoints a new judge by the name of Samuel, and in his case it appears as if his judgeship included both leadership to the nation, conducting war, and acting as priest. But, when we get to Chapter 8 we see Israel DEMAND a king. What? They have a King, they have the ultimate King! Why would they do that? What motivates them to ask for a king? Well, we learn in verse 5 that Israelites want to be like all other nations. And, that desire is so strong that the Israelites use a situation with Samuel’s sons to manipulate Samuel into giving Israel the king that they desire so much.
Israel wanted to be like all the other nations? As God’s chosen people they were meant to stand out, not to blend in. At this point Israel become sheeple. What is sheeple? Sheeple are a blend of sheep and people. Now, if you know anything about sheep, then you know that simply put, sheep are stupid. I like to say that they don’t have brains. And, sheep without a shepherd are in serious danger. Especially if they don’t have a good shepherd, that is one that looks out for their interests, one that places the interest and welfare of the sheep first and foremost. And like lemmings, these sheeple are headed into disaster unknowingly.
If it’s a king that they want, a king that they clamor for, well then, God’s going to give them their king. God first instructs Samuel to tell the Israelites just what will happen when they get a king, but the people are not dissuaded. They want what they want. God shows Samuel who to choose as their king. And, the king that they get is wonderful looking, great in statute in the form of Saul. I mean this guy looks the part. But, Saul is flawed, and he’s not really the king that Israel desires, only they don’t know it yet. Saul doesn’t put God first and foremost, Saul doesn’t consult God and it takes Saul’s servant to suggest that they seek out God’s wisdom the first time we meet Saul. Saul is erratic in nature and Saul doesn’t really have what it takes to be in the role of the good shepherd. And that, my friends, is a disaster in the making for sure.
Are we too just like those Israelites? Do we wish to blend in? Are we sheeple too? The pressures of society tell us to conform, to fit in, dictates what we should think, what we should do, and who we need to be. And, that’s not the direction the God wants us to go, that’s not the people that God wants us to be. God calls us believers to Himself and wants us to be better, to do better. God wants us to focus on the vertical (God), rather than the horizontal (the world). We are to keep God first and foremost in our hearts and minds. Yet, how often do we look at the Lord as our last resort, rather than keeping him front and center, and consulting God for His will in our lives, for Him to pave the path forward, for him to open the right doors and close the wrong doors?
We can do better than the world. But, we can only do it with that vertical focus. As for me, well I am trying to remain vertical.