W. Austin Gardner
Judgment Seat of Christ, Motivation not Achievement by Adrian Rogers
Number two: Not only is the emphasis going to be upon quality rather than quantity, but the emphasis is going to be upon motivation rather than achievement—motivation rather than achievement; not primarily what you did, but why you did it.
Look, if you will, in 1 Corinthians 9 for a moment—1 Corinthians 9—and let’s look in verse 16. Now, Paul says, “Though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is … me, if I preach not the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16) Paul says, “I don’t even have a chance. God called me to preach. He put me in the ministry. I couldn’t get out of it if I wanted to. I’d be afraid not to preach.” That’s what Paul said.
I feel the same way. Sometimes I’ve considered what I might do if I didn’t preach, and I thought, “Well, I probably wouldn’t be fit for anything,” but it’s only been a fleeting moment because I say, “Well, that’s foolish thinking anyway. I can’t get out of it; I’m trapped.” But oh, it’s a wonderful trap. I enjoy it. I love to preach the gospel. But friend, even if I didn’t love to preach it, I’d have to preach—I really would. I’m like the Apostle Paul. Paul said, “Necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is … me, if I preach not the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16) I’m just sure that God’s called me to preach.
But now, I want you to notice what Paul says in verse 17: “For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward”—“if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward.” (1 Corinthians 9:17) You see, it’s not just what we do but why we do it. You know, if I’m here this morning preaching just because I have to—because I’m being paid by this church, somebody has to be up here—and I’m just up here and I’m not doing it out of my love for the Lord Jesus Christ, and if I am doing it in a professional way, if I’m doing it because it’s a perfunctory thing, if I’m doing it because I have to—I’m expected to—God may even bless the sermon, but I won’t get anything out of it at the Judgment Seat of Christ. It’ll be wood, hay, and stubble, you see. If I do this willingly, I have a reward.
Now, if these people sing the choir—aren’t they pretty?—but if they sing in the choir and they’re not up here willingly this morning, no reward. If Brother Tommy said, “You be there or I’ll bash your head in,” all right, now that’s one thing. They’re here, fine. He says, “Now look, we’ve got to have a choir. You know, it’s the holiday season, so forth. Don’t fail to be here.”
Some of you kids are here because mamma made you come to church today. You’re sitting there with a grudge and a fidget. Some of you men are here, you know, just because it looks good and so forth. All right, you’re not going to receive any reward—no—’cause you’re not doing it willingly. Some of you give your money. You know, “we put a nickel in the plate and sing with might and main. When we asunder part, it gives us inward pain.” You don’t give willingly; you give of necessity. “God [loves] a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7) Give liberally. Give gladly. Give cheerfully. Attend willingly. Preach willingly. Teach willingly. Serve willingly out of the heart, and then you’ll have a reward—not just what you do, but why you do it.
You know, you can do some things that look good but you won’t get a reward. Remember what Jesus said about those people, those Pharisees? He said, “Before they made their offering they’d blow a trumpet.” (Matthew 6:2) Can you imagine that? A guy getting ready to put his offering in the plate—ta-ta-ta-ta-ta, and then he puts his offering in the plate and,
“Wow, look at that!” Or, here’s a guy—he’s getting out there getting ready to do his devotions. He goes out and stands on the corner of Bellevue and Poplar. And, he prays, you know, and everybody passing by—they see him; they say, “Look how holy he is.” Jesus said, “They pray to be seen of men. They give to be seen of men.” (Matthew 6:1) He said, “Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.” (Matthew 6:2)
That is, they already have it. What is it? They’ve been seen of men. That’s it—that’s it. I mean, that’s it—no reward in heaven. You see, it’s all right to give. It’s all right to pray. But, if you give for the wrong reason, if you pray for the wrong reason, if you preach for the wrong reason, if you sing for the wrong reason, and if you attend for the wrong reason, no reward.
Adrian Rogers, “Taking Inventory,” in Adrian Rogers Sermon Archive (Signal Hill, CA: Rogers Family Trust, 2017), 2 Co 5:8–10.