“Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men.” (Isa. 29:13)
There are many reasons why a person might serve Jesus as a professing Christian.
Duty. Some people are brought up in the church from infancy. Religious activities are a duty, if not a delight. The moral restraints of the church are instilled in the heart and, while many times these restraints and obligations are resented, they are honored to one degree or another.
Self-interest. Some people simply want to be different. They want to be happy. They want inner peace. Some hear the voice of Jesus saying, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28) They come to Jesus.
Money. Some people have found there is money to be made in being a Christian. Through self-help books and sermons, sensational prophetic conferences, and by preaching a prosperity gospel of false hope, many individuals have been enriched at the expense of God’s people, thereby fulfilling prophecy. Many more have been led astray by these religious charlatans. “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. 3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.” (2 Peter 2:1-3)
Martyrdom. Some people engage in Christian service out of a sense of martyrdom. “Someone has to do it,” is not an uncommon thought, especially in small assemblies where there are so many needs, and so few people.
Career choice. I asked a Presbyterian minister why he became a pastor. His response surprised me. He said that his Guidance Counselor suggested that, based on a personality test he had taken, he might be suited for pastoral work. He thought it was a good idea, and made a career choice. Because much of the modern church is patterned after a business model, service for Jesus necessitates secretaries, carpenters, lawyers, plumbers, electricians, and many hundreds of other career minded jobs.
I asked a Baptist minister where his heart was, after finding out he really did not care who paid him, the church, or a secular organization, as long as he had insurance, and a good pay check. His family deserved the better things of life, I was told, and he meant to secure them one way or another. He did not mind exploiting the church, and working a secular job. That was fine with him as long as he had more money. His willingness to be bi-vocational was a career choice, but it was obvious that his heart was not totally committed to the work of Jesus.
It is not wrong for a person to examine themselves and answer this question: “Where is my heart?” Or, “Why do I do, what I do, as a professing Christian?”
Most people are a bundle of contradictions, and full of mixed motives. Ideally, spiritual duties are a blessing, not a burden. It is not wrong to want to be happy, and at peace. Jesus invites us to come to Him for that. There is an economic reality to life, and the laborer in the Lord’s vineyard is worthy of financial remuneration. It is not wrong to have some sense of a martyr’s complex. Jesus wants individuals to take their cross and follow Him. And, sometimes, Jesus calls people to leave their nets, and follow Him full time. Sometimes, they need to be bi-vocational. However, in all of this the question remains, “Where is your heart?” “Is your heart far from the Lord, or near Him?”