Motive for Mission in the Tears of Jesus

In a popular TED Talk called “The Puzzle of Motivation,” career analyst Dan Pink says that “one of the most robust findings in science is also one of the most ignored.”  He is referring to the findings that prove humans are most productive when they are motivated internally (by a sense of purpose or calling), rather than externally (by rewards or incentives).

This message should come as no surprise to believers who are compelled by an (internal) devotion to Christ. We live not by the values or acclaim of the external world, but by faith in the Son of God (Galatians 2:20). In other words: we are a people of internalized motivation.

Yet when it comes to ministry, believers are sometimes tempted to focus on the fact that we are workers for God simply because we are told to “go and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). Our internal motivation can too easily be framed by a sense of duty alone.

Luke 19:41,42 gives a compelling perspective on what motivated Jesus in His mission:

As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.”

Jesus was moved to tears with compassion for the masses who had or would reject Him. His obedience to the cross was certainly guided by duty, but his motivation was anchored in love and compassion for the people he died to save.

As believers, with the Spirit of God living inside each of us as, we have the unique privilege of being influenced by the compulsions of Christ. His tears spoke of a gentle, compassionate motive to love and save the broken world. When our hearts are connected to His, we will be moved and motivated by compassion in the same way.

As we engage in our broken world – in all our interactions with family, friends, and what we see in the news media, how will we be different if we “put on” the compassion of Jesus? How might the compassion of Jesus direct how we interact specifically with friends or family that God brings to mind?

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