When Motive Precedes Praise
Message No. 0557 | Twitter @GodandUs | www.wisdom-speaks.ca
Authorities have used deception to ask questions from unsuspected people all the time. This method is sometimes called ‘Finding out the truth through lying.’ On one of my trips, I was returning home and was transiting in an airport. At boarding time, though I had preferential boarding privilege owing to my frequent flyer status, and was one of the first few to go into the aircraft, the police at the boarding gate still wanted to find out if I was truly a citizen of my destination country, so he pretended to joke with me, with some fake smiles, and asked me (paraphrasing): “You live in a nice country, what’s the temperature like at this time?” I was so certain he knew the answer to his question, and was just thinking he was so smart, and I wouldn’t decode his intentions.
The spirit of discernment is a vital gift to every Christian. Not knowing who is out there trying to trick you into some trouble is exactly one of the reasons why we should ask God for wisdom, for grace, and for favor before we step out each morning. In Luke 12:11-12, Jesus told His disciples:
“When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”
Jesus Himself was a victim of motive-fed-praise many times during His short ministry on earth. And, where else could this trick be coming from, if not from His favorite accusers: the Pharisees, Scribes, and their other gang members. In Mark 12:13-17, they played one of these tricks, intending to place Him at the very position where they wanted – that He would say something the Roman masters would really abhor and have a valid reason for His arrest and crucifixion. So, in verses 13-15, the Bible says:
Then they sent to Him some of the Pharisees and the Herodians, to catch Him in His words. When they had come, they said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and care about no one; for You do not regard the person of men, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Shall we pay, or shall we not pay?”
Just looking at how they started the conversation, an unsuspecting person would say thank God these people finally recognize whom Jesus is and are openly accepting His authority, but look deeper into their intention through their question. I would not be surprised if the Pharisees had invited the Roman soldiers to lurk in the corner, had Jesus answered wrongly, so they could quickly ask them in to arrest Him instantly and take Him to Pilate. However, Jesus, knowing all things, always outsmarted His accusers, and by the time He answered this question, the Pharisees went back home with disappointment.
As God’s children, we would come across times and situations where we need wisdom and the spirit of discernment in order to answer questions posed to us. There are friends out there who would shower praises on you and push you to do something that would benefit them but may hurt you. Some people are scared to ask for some benefits at work or protest some government decisions, but would prop other colleagues or friends up to ask on everyone’s behalf. When you start hearing statements like ‘you’re the only one who can ask for this’ or ‘you’re the brave one among us, we know you do not fear anyone,’ this should be your clue to be careful and not fall victim of motive-fed-praises.
If everyone is scared to do something, there must be a reason for this. While I am not advocating that we should be cowed into submission and just keep quiet and continue to be cheated, we must be careful and prayerful in our approach to anything. Wanting to be a hero that everyone else would hide behind sometimes has its own problems and God’s children must evaluate every situation and ask for wisdom to approach each. As much as possible, we must avoid unruly confrontation and riotous behavior, remain humble, refined, and professional. Our good behaviors could actually be the example that both God and man are looking for, in order to grant our requests. You will not be tricked into trouble by praise singers, in Jesus’ name. Amen. Have a blessed week!
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