The Prime Motive – 1 Corinthians 10:31
Genevan Institute for Reformed Studies
by Bob Burridge ©2011
The reason why we do things is very important. Our courts have to consider the motive of the accused when someone is believed to have committed a crime. Accidental damage should not be punished in the same way as intended evil. Determining the intent behind a crime is crucial and morally necessary.
For example, If a person causes someone to die, it is not necessarily a crime of murder. The regretful killing may have been done in self-defense. In war people are killed in the defense of a nation. There is a provision in God’s word for rightful civil authorities to take the life of those properly convicted of capital crimes. Executions are not the same as murder. There are also accidental deaths where no harm was intended. Some may cause others to die because of their negligence, or irresponsible carelessness resulting in deadly unintended consequences. There are also those terrible instances where killing is planned with intended malice. In these cases it is considered a crime of murder. In each of these cases, the reason why a killing took place is important.
The Bible supports this principle. The reason behind what we do needs to be considered when making moral and judicial decisions. Harm and damage is not always moved by evil intent.
Those things which seem to benefit others are not always moved by good intentions either. Good deeds are truly good only if they are done for the right reasons. People may at times give things in order to get things. Some give with an attitude of selfish pride so they will get recognition for their seeming generosity. Some give out of a guilty conscience as if a good deed will wipe out a bad one. Good done selfishly is just evil in a costume.
There is only one motive that should be at the root of everything we do. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:31,
“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”
Food and drink are necessary for life, health, and growth. God made them pleasureful so we can enjoy getting our nourishment as provided by our Creator. While God reveals that we should be concerned about all matters that sustain us and that give us pleasure, our own benefits are not to be our prime motive. Everything in life should flow from one primary motive alone. All we do should be done for God’s glory.
There is little to misunderstand here. Literally there are only five words in this part of the original Greek text. It reads: “… all – unto – glory – of_God – you_be_doing”, panta eis doxan theou poieite (παντα εις δοξαν θεου ποιειτε). There should be nothing in which we engage that is not centered upon this principle. The honoring of our Creator-Redeemer by promoting his attributes, purposes, actions, and promises must be what shapes our attitudes and choices.
This one moral principle should be your thought in everything you do. It should govern your entertainment, your daily schedule and priorities, your budget, your hobbies, how you do business, and how you run your home. Everything must be done in such a way that God’s glory is promoted.
That means you need to know and to truly care about what pleases God. If his glory is the motive behind all you do, then you need to be a faithful and regular student of God’s word. To honor him centrally in your life you also need to show your total reliance upon his power and strength in your life. This means you ought to be diligent in prayer with confidence that because of the work of our Savior Jesus Christ your prayers are used by God in carrying out his plan for the ages, and in maturing you as a Child of God.
To glorify God you must also encourage and be encouraged by others who want to glorify God too. His word teaches us that we are redeemed to be part of a body of believers living for their Redeemer and joining for worship in the manner he prescribes in his word.
God made all things for his own glory. If your motives are primarily based upon any thing other than this fundamental principle, you defy the whole order of the way things were created to be, and you will certainly bear the sad consequences.
In contrast, there is wonderful blessing promised when your intentions move in harmony with God’s intent, when you live to give him the glory in all things, in whatever you do.
(Note: The Bible quotations in this article are from the King James Version unless otherwise noted.)