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Smiling, Happy Faces, Filling a Void, Accomplishing Nothing

Love (Divine) Motivation Servanthood

Source: N/A

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2024-03-22

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:1 ; 1 Corinthians 16:14

Author: Illustration Exchange


If you’ve ever been to a Costco to shop, you know that you cannot leave the store without showing your receipt to an exit attendant who will dutifully match your receipt against the items in your cart to be sure you haven’t “forgotten” to pay for anything.

Well, a recent trip to the retail giant produced quite a Wait. What?! moment as we were exiting the store with our full-to-overflowing shopping haul.

The friendly, smiling exit attendant asked for our receipt, and we promptly produced it. She scanned the receipt, then our cart, then the receipt again. She then humbly apologized that it was taking so long, informing us that she just needed to find the rib roast (we know — a BIG extravagance!) we had just paid for. After another moment, she said, again with a big, bright smile, “Ahhh, there it is! Have a nice day.”

Then came the, Wait. What?! moment.

She was supposed to be looking first at our cart, then comparing the items in our cart to what was on our receipt, not the reverse, looking at the items on our receipt to see if they were in our cart. She had gotten the proverbial cart before the horse, or in this case, the receipt before the cart!

Clearly, this bubbly, smiling attendant didn’t quite grasp the concept of the job she had been engaged to perform. We can just hear the convo in the break room: “I don’t understand why everyone is so worried about shoplifting. I’ve been working here for a month now and I’ve never found anything even remotely suspicious.” Well, no wonder … you’re so kind, so polite, so well intentioned, but you’re not doing your job correctly!

She was motivated to find items we’d paid for, but might have forgotten, while the management wanted her to be motivated to find the items we might be taking that we hadn’t yet paid for.

Sadly, she was a smiling, happy face, filling a void, accomplishing nothing.


As believers, we engage in acts of service and devotion every day — in our homes, our churches, our places of employment, our communities, with nothing but the best attitudes and the best intentions. Yet we are often no more effective in our acts of service and devotion than that confused Costco attendant was at performing her one, very simple task.

Why? Because motivation matters!

Scripture is clear, anything not done in love, is useless.

When religiosity replaces relationship or rote actions replace agape [God's love], we become nothing more than smiling, happy faces, filling voids, accomplishing nothing.

Let everything you do be done in love [motivated and inspired by God’s love for us] (1 Corinthians 16:14, AMP).

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, NIV):

Nehemiah and the Tall Poppy Syndrome

Envy Success Motivation


Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Da Al | Date Posted: 2024-01-27

Scripture: Nehemiah 4:7 ; Philippians 2:3

Author: Da Al


Tall Poppy Syndrome is a term coined to explain the mindset of people who attack successful people. It's name gives the idea that the flower that grows the tallest is cut off because it sticks out. This has also been called the Crabs in a Barrel mindset where a person's success set them up as a target for attack, largely out of jealousy and envy of their fellow employees. This takes the drive out of someone's ambition at work or in life.


Nehemiah and the Jews had focused on rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem. It didn't take long for their neighbors to notice. They began to resist the Jews' efforts through threats, taunting, confusion, and demoralization. Yet the Jews persisted in their efforts.

Whenever someone does something bold for God, be it starting a church, taking up missions, bringing change in the community, they will inevitably face the resistance of those seeking to stop them or slow them down.

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others" (Philippians 2:3-4, NIV).

Just Keep Swimming

Hope Assurance Motivation

Source: Eagle Valley Behavioral Health, et al

Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2022-02-09

Scripture: Titus 1:2 ; 2 Corinthians 5:5

Author: Illustration Exchange


Curt Paul Richter was a Harvard and Johns Hopkins educated biologist, psychobiologist and geneticist, who served for many years as director of Johns Hopkins’ psychiatric clinic, where he served until becoming professor of psychobiology in 1957. 

He made many important contributions to the fields of biology and psychobiology. One of his most famous experiments involved drowning rats – a study which, today, would probably land him in jail for animal cruelty.

He knew that rats had a reputation for being able to swim for exceedingly long periods of time (in excess of 50 hours!). Yet when he placed rats in a tightly confined bucket of water, they quickly discovered they had no means of outlet, no means of relief, and literally gave up, allowing themselves to simply sink to the bottom, and drowning, on average, within about 15 minutes.

He knew they had the “physical” ability to continue swimming much longer, so concluded they must have felt both helpless and hopeless. So he tried again, this time pulling the rats from the water once he saw them beginning to struggle. He let them rest for a short time before returning them to the bucket. They once again began swimming, testing the confines of their surroundings, but instead of giving up and allowing themselves to sink and drown, they kept swimming! And swimming! And swimming! Many swam up to 60 hours until their bodies could simply no longer endure.

What was the difference between these two groups of rats? Richter concluded the difference was HOPE -- that “feeling of expectation” that a particular outcome or desire will come to pass (Google Dictionary), “to look forward to [something] with desire and reasonable confidence” (

These drowning rats had been saved once, so they were instilled with the hope – the expectation, the reasonable confidence -- of eventual rescue yet again. Sadly, their hope was misplaced. Their motivation to battle the fatigue, battle the seemingly impossible circumstances, and just keep swimming still landed them in the bottom of the bucket.


Hope is an amazing motivator. And when it is well placed, it is a lifeline. 

To the Christian, who has placed their hope squarely in the promises of God, our “feeling of expectation” is much more than a feeling.  It is an assured confidence “in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began" (Titus 1:2). It is that knowledge and confidence in Christ’s finished work on our behalf that will ultimately result in our salvation and eternal life,

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal … so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (2 Cor 4:16–5:5).

Life gets hard folks. You may feel hemmed in on every side, with no visible means of relief or escape. Your body, not to mention your mind and spirit, may want to just give up. But, in the immortal words of Disney’s Dory, “Just keep swimming!” 

Allow the assured promises of God to keep you motivated. Death will be swallowed up in life. He has given you His Spirit as a guarantee of the salvation and glorification which is to come!

We Obey What We Love

Grace Transformation Motivation

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2021-11-21

Scripture: Galatians 3:3 ; 2 Corinthians 5:17

Author: Mitchell Dillon

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The Carrot And The Stick

Motivation Fear Love (Uncondtional)

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2020-12-20

Scripture: 1 John 4:18 ; 1 John 4:19

Author: Illustration Exchange

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Asking The Wrong Question

Love for God Motivation Legalism

Contributed By: Neal Pollard | Date Posted: 2020-08-16

Scripture: Hebrews 10:25

Author: Neal Pollard

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What Shamu Taught Me About Marriage

Marriage Humor Motivation

Contributed By: John Reed | Date Posted: 2018-07-21

Scripture: 1 Peter 4:8

Author: Amy Sutherland

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How To Get Things Done In Russia

Servanthood Control Motivation

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2018-04-16

Author: Illustration Exchange

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The Drowning Stranger Dilemma

Morality Atheism Motivation

Contributed By: Mitchell Dillon | Date Posted: 2017-05-03

Author: "Matt" at Well Spent Journey

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The Protracted Replay Of Bitterness

Forgiveness Bitterness Motivation

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2017-01-07

Scripture: Ephesians 4:26

Author: Illustration Exchange

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