The Y Factor PROLOGUE Many of us know what we intend to do in life, and many of us know what we are doing in life. The major reason behind what we are doing in life is the goal we have set or a dream we have. Many of us have goals and we know HOW we are going to attain those goals. We know what to study and the duration of the course in order to correctly measure the time lapse before we obtain the chosen career. In our physical lives it is very easy to answer the three main questions of life the: 1.
We all know what we want to attain in life; how we are going to attain them and why we want to attain it. We also know WHAT we are doing; HOW we are doing it and WHY we are doing it! It’s so amazing that when it comes to our spiritual lives and serving God we can only correctly answer two of the three questions, we know what we are doing and how we are doing it and at times the WHY question we cannot answer. To make matters worse, God is not that much concerned about the other two questions (as we are), he is concerned about the Y question. The WHAT and the HOW question often refer to physical actions for example: “What are you doing?” “I am Praising God!” “How are you doing it?” “I am singing and dancing.” All answers are action words, things that we DO outwardly; whereas the why question looks at the heart or the motive behind the action. God is mainly concerned about the Y factor…….
We live a fast paced life where most of us are doing things just for the sake of doing them. Some of us are just living our lives as an existence (a robotic existence) where we do things because it is the ‘norm’ or that is what is ‘acceptable’ and expected of us. We are busy doing a lot of things but we have no idea why we are doing them. Some of us are doing things because that is our culture, tradition, that is what we were taught but at the end of the day we are really ignorant of the real reason behind our actions. It is not only about our actions on the outside but it also concerns our characters. It is not only about serving God, but all manner of life. Sometimes we find we behave in ways that we don’t want to behave, we do things that we don’t want to do but fail to stop. *Addictive behavior] Why?? Is it because we are powerless when it comes to our own lives or we don’t have self control? Are we just doing things because it is what is “right and true”? I am prompted to ask if we really have a choice in this life or we are living a life of precedent, a life based on the past. Are we merely here to replay or repeat history or we can make a change in the way things were done before us and change the way we do things today? I strongly believe that if we understand the why we can truly change or improve the how. If we know the motive or the underlying reason we can definitely alter the behavior (what?). I am not a supporter of playing the blame game but taking complete responsibility for our own actions. Many of us have based our actions on our past or what we were told! I will however outline the main motives behind most of our actions and how to overcome the hurdles as we seek to live a meaningful life. Let us take a step in the right direction, to quote an old Chinese proverb “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” The first step was taken when you chose to read this book and a hundred other steps will be taken as you read on and discover ways of bringing change to a seemingly mediocre life. It is my prayer that as you read this book you may gain wisdom and know [heart knowledge] and not just know [head knowledge] God bless………
PART 1: “WHY DO WE DO WHAT WE DO?” For every action that we do there is always a motivation behind it, and many a time we know the motivation behind our actions regardless of the fact that they are positive or negative actions. I can give my clothes to the poor and there will be a motivation behind it, you can discipline your child and there will be a motivation behind it. One can steal from a bank and there definitely will be
a motivation behind it. The fact of the matter is: for every action undertaken there is an underlying reason as to why that action was undertaken in that particular manner. As Christians there are many things that we need to do/must do, these are things that are “expected of us. We have certain ways to do certain things; there is an expected way to behave. In all we do it seems as if there is a spotlight on us hence the need for perfection(perfect in the eyes of the world). It is not only about being perfect in the eyes of the world but we also want to show our devotion to God by behaving in a certain way. We have a lot of things that we are ‘supposed’ to do that we do; there are certain expectations that we struggle and try to meet and there is a manner in which we think we are supposed to speak and we do all these things religiously. Now take time to imagine this scenario: You are in your prayer closet and you hear the voice of God clearly asking you this question: 1.
“why do you do what you do?” or
“Why do you serve me?” or
“Why do you give of your offerings and tithes?”
What will your answer be? Remember you are talking to God so you cannot deceive Him, your answers have to be true, take time and answer these questions truthfully…. Now I am sure we all have great answers to the aforementioned questions but do we have the correct ones? Taking a close look at the questions we can’t rightly answer the first question without asking ourselves another question ‘what is it that we do’ Looking at the first question I wondered what it was that I did. I knew for a fact that it was a question of what I did in the house of God and for God; it was a matter of my preaching , teaching, writing, praying. (in a nutshell serving) The above were the answer to the ‘What?’ question. The ‘Why?’ question looked for the reason behind the action, the motive behind the said action or activity! In simple terms the question is : “WHAT IS THE REASON/MOTIVE FOR WHAT YOU DO? Or “WHAT IS IT THAT COMPELS YOU TO PREACH, TEACH AND SERVE GOD?” PROFITABLE ACTIONS In our lives we do different things for different reasons and more often than not the major reason for our action is ‘that particular action is the one that benefits us most!’ We act in a certain way because we have some ulterior motives; some of these motives have become a part of us such that we don’t see their existence in our lives. We are so accustomed to them to the extent of being ‘controlled’ by these motives; we feel powerless to overcome them. I work in a business environment and In business we normally look for the deal or opportunity that gives us the best return on our investment; we enter into the deal that is most viable for us(viability
being based on return); we look for the opportunity that can sustain our appetites and lifestyle. We look for that which suits ‘us’. Our motives behind the pursuit of and the subsequent clinching of the deal is that it gives us more’; we don’t pay much attention to what we put in (we do to a certain extent) but much focus is put on what we can get from the action or deal. It is sad but true that as Christians we have taken the business approach to life and made it our approach when it comes to serving God. We have now taken the standpoint of looking at what we can GET from God rather that what we can give Him. Many of us no longer serve out of ‘the goodness of our hearts’ or out of love for God; neither do we give because we are thankful or to show our appreciation but rather we now do these thing because of what WE CAN GET from the deal . That which we do; we do because of what we shall receive out of it. We are no longer worshipping God in spirit and in truth, we have allowed greed for wealth and prestige to choke out our real purpose, we have allowed the flesh to cloud the vision that God has for our lives. OUR MAJOR REASONS There are many reasons that belie our actions but I will outline a few of those reasons why we do that which we do. They may not be the main reasons for your actions or they might just highlight the road you were heading for; it doesn’t matter where you are at the moment, what is of greater importance is the decision that you will make afterwards. Some of the major reasons for our actions are: 1.
We serve for the reason of being seen, we do various acts of service, we are the ones that are always running around the church and we are very effective in whatever tasks that we do. Most of the times we are doing serving just to receive credit. We want to be acknowledged, to be known as reliable people but when God looks at what we are doing; what does He see? Will he acknowledge our works, will he know us? Think about it! Some of us are very good givers but at times we are just giving so as to be seen as the biggest givers in church. Should recognition be the main focus of our serving or giving to God? Is this what God is looking for in us? Is recognition the reason God gave us Christ?
PRIDE: (self importance)
We are in a place of service (do what we do) so as to be esteemed by man, in order to feed one’s ego. Serving so that you can blow your own trumpet and shout to the world that they may see what YOU have done! This is the kind of person who always gets fired up to serve God when there are people around or when they are complimented, when they are recognized. At the end of the day you are serving only for the reason of feeling wanted and being recognized by man. We are no longer in a place of service but we are offering ‘acts’ of service. We have ultimately conformed to the ideals of the world and we make them our own ideals. it has ceased to be about
God but it has ultimately become about us! We are now justified by works. We now do that which esteems us rather than pleases God. 3.
We have adopted the business ideal of profit making into our everyday lives. We think the only reason to serve is the incentive or the reward that we will get at the end of the day We have ceased to serve God out of love or the willingness of our hearts but we are acting based on tan expectation of a good return on our ‘investment’. We have become like the children of this day and age that have and are being raised on incentives. We are now ignorant of the goodness of a willing heart but we know the benefits of receiving. As a result of an incentive based upbringing, we no longer have children that do things because they want to or are willing to, they now do things because of the incentive . we have children that have become accustomed to statements such as:
“Eat your supper and make sure you finish your vegetables and we can go out for some ice cream.”
At the end of the day the child will not finish the vegetables out of a willing heart but he will do it because he wants the ice cream at the end of the meal. In the same way God has given us promises in his word which are in no way intended to be incentives to serve Him but we have made them to be such. He is faithful to fulfill his promises. He has given us benefits to serving him again not as a reward for our action but as a gift to us as a bonus. We have however, taken to serving him as a way of ‘unlocking’ His blessing. We now do what we do not out of love but out of the perceived return. We are now worshiping God with our lips but our hearts are not at all in it. I say this because our hearts no longer have the desire to serve God but we have a great desire to gain the returns from God. Instead of searching for God we have become ‘incentive’ benefit hunters. Some are not giving because they love God but because they want to receive a hundred fold return. We have ceased to serve God because we desire to or because we want to; we are now serving for the benefits that we can get at the end of the day. It is like we are trying to bribe God into blessing us. We are saying ‘ I am serving not because I want to but because of what I can get at the end of the day.” In some cases we serve God out of FEAR SAYING “if I don’t tithe then the devourer will come and destroy my crops [Malachi 3:10]. We also serve God out of TRADITION / RELIGION and yet again we are bound to the very law that Christ died us to free us from thus enabling us to walk under grace. Many have become accustomed to going to church on Sunday that we now go there for all the wrong reasons. We are now going there to meet with other people rather than meet with God. We go there to be recognized as Christians yet in actual fact we are just ‘church goers’ a people without a relationship with God. The question now is; is that what God wants to see from and in us???
We have ultimately perverted (distorted) the whole aspect of service to the extent that our service has become a stench in God’s nostrils. In fact He can no longer look at our service since it has just become a matter of works, we have fallen in love with what we do FOR God rather than God Himself. We now justify and judge ourselves according to what we have done for God rather than what God has done for us. IT IS A HEART ISSUE. The word of God is very straightforward and it says: “AND REND YOUR HEART AND NOT YOUR GARMENTS, AND TURN UNTO THE LORD YOUR GOD: FOR HE IS GRACIOUS AND MERCIFUL, SLOW TO ANGER AND OF GREAT KINDNESS...” *JOEL 2:13+ When it comes to service what is it that God looks at? Do our actions mean anything to God? What is it that matters to God? In the scripture, the rendering of clothes is an outward show seen by everyone; whereas the rendering of the heart is an inward act that is rarely seen by people on the outside. What matters to God is not what you are doing but WHY you are doing it. God is not that much concerned about how many times you go to church, you can even ‘live’ in church and it won’t make much of a difference; He doesn’t pay much attention to the multitudes you have preached to or the amount of money you put into the offering basket but what really matters to God is the condition of your heart. We can safely say it is about the ‘QUALITY’ NOT THE ‘QUANTITY’. In the Old Testament days people used to show their humility/mourning/sorrow to God or man by tearing up their clothes; putting on sackcloth and pouring ashes on their heads (all an outward show of their actions). in Joel’s time the Israelites got used to this to such an extent that they ended up just rendering their clothes but their hearts were ‘intact’. When God spoke to Joel about the rendering of hearts he was not only speaking to the Israelites at that time only but also to us because he knew that we like our forefathers, are prone to get caught up in what we are doing and we’ just do it’ without any change in our hearts. From that time till now God is not looking at or concentrating upon what we are doing but he is looking at the condition of our hearts, His heart longs to connect with our hearts as we serve Him in the same way He longed to connect with the hearts of the Israelites. A SHOCKING STATEMENT It is entirely possible for one to give all he has and not have given anything at all. You might give away you car and all you own but at the end of the day you would have done nothing! Many of us can identify with this statement; instead of rejoicing in the action of giving we are often stuck in a rut and stressed because we seek the return. God will not overlook the fact that you have given but he will now put much focus on the condition of the heart. What He will look at is where you WILLING to give or you gave out of fear; the need for recognition; to please someone or maybe you gave for the benefit. Yes the blessing will come but you might delay the blessing or you will get a
blessing but not THE blessing that God had for you had you given from your heart. Sometime we are content with receiving the blessing of the LORD that we miss out on the FAVOUR of the LORD. QUALITY NOT QUANTITY EXAMPLE 1: THE WIDOW’S MITE! AND HE LOOKED UP, AND SAW THE RICH MEN CASTING THEIR GIFTS INTO THE TREASURY. AND HE SAW A CERTAIN WIDOW CASTING THITHER TWO MITES. AND HE SAID ‘OF A TRUTH I SAY UNTO YOU, THAT THIS POOR WIDOW HATH CAST IN MORE THAN THEY ALL. FOR ALL THESE HAVE OF THEIR ABUNDANCE CAST INTO THE OFFERINGS OF GOD: BUT SHE OF HER PENURY (POVERTY) HATH CAST IN ALL THE LIVING THAT SHE HAD. [LUKE 21:1-4; Emphasis mine] We all know this story and it makes for good reading especially when you are broke and have just given of the last that you had and you say; ‘I was like that widow.’ What we fail to see in the scripture is the treasure that lies in the story; the widow gave all that she had out of her poverty but she did not only put two coins in the treasury but she put in her heart and her life in the treasury and this is what made Jesus look at her . in her Jesus saw not the quantity of the gift but the Quality. He saw the giving not of subsistence but the giving of substance (the core matter; the essence of her life) while others were giving money/ gifts she gave her life. For all the rich men what they put in the offering was of no significance to them, they were doing what was expected of them (in essence they did not give). The widow was willing to give and she gave with her heart. I say this because one cannot give a life without willingness in heart. What concerned Jesus more was the heart and it still concerns God today. Question When we (as individuals) give of our offerings are we just giving because it’s expected of us or we are giving our very substance, we are giving the core of our very existence?
EXAMPLE 2: ANANIAS AND SAPPHIRA NEITHER WAS THERE ANY AMONG THEM THAT LACKED: FOR AS MANY AS WERE POSSESSORS OF LANDS OR HOUSES SOLD THEM, AND BROUGHT THE PRICES OF THE THINGS THAT WERE SOLD, AND LAID THEM AT THE APOSTLES’ FEET: AND DISTRIBUTION WAS MADE UNTO EVERY MAN ACCORDING AS HE HAD NEED. [ACTS 4:34-35]
BUT A CERTAIN MAN NAMED ANANIAS, WITH SAPPHIRA HIS WIFE SOLD A POSSESSION, AND KEPT BACK PART OF THE PRICE, HIS WIFE ALSO BEING PRIVY TO IT, AND BROUGHT A CERTAIN PART AND LAID IT AT THE APOSTLES’ FEET. BUT PETER SAID, ANANIAS WHY HAS SATAN FILLED YOUR HEART TO LIE TO THE HOLY GHOST, AND TO KEEP BACK PART OF THE PRICE OF THE LAND? WHILE IT REMAINED WAS IT NOT YOUR OWN? AND AFTER IT WAS SOLD WAS IT NOT IN YOUR OWN POWER? WHY HAVE YOU CONCEIVED THIS THING IN YOUR HEART? YOU HAVE NOT LIED TO MAN BUT TO GOD. [ACTS 5:1-4] Yet again we are faced with a story of people giving to God and they all seem willing to give save for one couple, who decide to keep part of their offering for themselves. However we are not focusing on that just as yet. When I read the passage above I saw something that is also prevalent in today’s church even though we rarely notice it. This is ‘COPYCAT GIVING’ a scenario whereby one give not because he wants to give but he gives because “everyone is doing it”, which is a direct result of the desire for recognition and pride. Truthfully speaking this is an individual that does not utilize his heart but he uses his ego to do what he does. An inflated ego to him means much more than a free heart. BACK TO ANANIAS. Ananias lived at a time where most Christians were selling their possessions to give to God, I believe he saw the benefits of giving and the recognition that was accorded to Barnabus and he yearned for that as well . AND JOSES, WHO BY THE APOSTLES WAS SURNAMED BARNABUS,(INTERPRETED SON OF CONSOLATION) A LEVITE AND OF THE COUNTRY OF CYPRUS, HAVING LAND SOLD IT AND BROUGHT THE MONEY AND LAID IT AT THE APOSTLES FEET. [ACTS 4V36-37] Ananias decided to give but he didn’t want to give his substance he gave his subsistence; he gave a part of his substance. We live in a season where there are a lot of givers in the church and like Ananias some want to be a part of the bandwagon not realizing that there is a cost to be paid at the end of the day. Ananias gave of part of his possessions so that he might be ‘like’ Barnabus, and we are giving of our possessions so that we can be like so and so. We are busy making decisions based on someone else’s actions rather than the conviction of our own hearts. The question God was asking is “What motivated Ananias to give?” was he willing to give or he gave out of compulsion/copying others? Yes, we might give all we have because we have seen others do the same, but what God sees is WHY you are doing it. The person you are copying might have been moved by God and there you are copying that person without any desire whatsoever in your heart to give.
As a subsequent result of Ananias’ desire to be seen he decided to cheat God and at the same time be recognized as a giver but it did not work that way for him for God was not looking at the money that he laid at the apostles’ feet but He was looking at his heart. The same applies to serving God; we are serving God because we have seen others do the same. We are copying others in service without an ounce or desire in our hearts to serve. We are giving some and retaining part of the seed. This is the same as serving God with your body but your heart is not in it. We are just doing the physical part of serving without engaging our hearts and our spirits and it is not what God is looking for in us. GENERATIONAL MISINFORMATION The sad thing about serving God half heartedly is it has gone on for a long time and we have accepted it as normal. At this moment many have become ‘pros’ at offering half-hearted sacrifices. God has watched it happen for generations, he has been gracious with us, He has not spoken but there comes a time when one has to ask: ‘Why have conceived this thing in your heart?’ and the time is here where we need to realize that ‘we have not lied to man but to God!’ Truth be told many of us have been deceiving ourselves saying we were serving God yet in actual fact we are serving only ourselves. As a people we were not interested in whether God found pleasure in what we did but we were rather concerned with meeting our own ends; we were so focused on the return on our ‘investment’ that we forgot the most important factor in the transaction: OUR HEARTS! AND ANANIAS HEARING THESE WORDS FELL DOWN AND GAVE UP THE GHOST: AND GREAT FEAR CAME ON ALL THAT HEARD THESE THINGS. AND THE YOUNG MEN AROSE WOUND HIM UP, AND CARRIED HIM OUT AND BURIED HIM. AND IT WAS ABOUT THE SPACE OF THREE HOURS AFTER WHEN HIS WIFE NOT KNOWING WHAT WAS DONE CAME IN. AND PETER ANSWERED UNTO HER; TELL ME WHETHER YOU SOLD THE LAND FOR SO MUCH? AND SHE SAID, YEA FOR SO MUCH. THEN PETER SAID UNTO HER, HOW IS IT THAT YOU HAVE AGREED TO TEMPT THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD? BEHOLD THE FEET OF THEM THAT BURIED YOUR HUSBAND ARE AT THE DOOR, AND SHALL CARRY THEE OUT. Some might wonder and say ‘what is the significance of Ananias and Saphira’s death?’ well it served as (and serves as) an example to us as to what will happen if we kid ourselves into thinking that we can fool God. The truth of the matter is we anyone who deceives God (if possible) will die but we will not be as fortunate as to die a quick death as the couple; our death will be slow but ultimately excruciating. We will not suffer physically as such but our Spirits will die within us, we begin to suffer from ‘spiritual burnout.’ Not only that we become frustrated as we serve and at the end of the day we see no purpose in serving or giving and we miss out on our blessing. You never know the minute you engage your heart might be the minute that you receive your breakthrough!