On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” -Matthew 9:12-13 (NIV)

There’s no shortage of motivational messages in our social media feeds. They mostly seem innocent enough, but upon closer scrutiny, we can discern that they don’t always align with Scripture, nor the life Jesus modeled for us. For example:

“Leave dramatic people and their drama behind”

Jesus didn’t avoid the religious leaders who considered him a heretic. He didn’t stay out of the temple when people made it more of a marketplace than a house of worship. He didn’t shrink from prostitutes, tax collectors, lepers, or other spurned subgroups of society.

No, Jesus drove straight into the thick of it. He dealt directly, honestly, and firmly with drama. He called it what it was, and loved every single one of the people he called out or helped. Likewise, we can drive straight into the drama we see, because God may want to use us as instruments of His grace to them when everyone else has ditched them.

“Surround yourself with people who laugh”

Laughter is very therapeutic, to be sure, but some use it as a coping mechanism to avoid or mask pain. And sometimes the ones who aren’t laughing are ones who could most use a listening and compassionate ear, but would never explicitly ask for it.

“Love the people who treat you right, pray for the ones who don’t”

Only love those who we decide treat us right? Jesus loved everyone (Luke 6:32-33), and explicitly taught us to love our enemies. We can love and pray for them all (Luke 6:27-28).

“Live to be happy above all else”

This last one’s a doozy. Jesus told us we could expect hardship in life on earth (John 16:33). To walk the Christian walk is not an easy one, and is often a walk through arid valleys and torrential storms. And God can allow such trying people and times in our lives to sanctify us and bring us closer to Christlikeness with every step…and to bless others through us. He forms character and endurance in us through the hard times.

Sometimes when we chase happiness over the right thing to do, we and others suffer. And what we find when we walk in obedience is that happiness is the byproduct of a deeper-seated joy we have in Christ.

True motivation for true believers

For the One who suffered the worst for our sins and salvation, we whose hearts pursue His are drawn to difficulty and discomfort when our flesh wants to go the other way.

People who bring drama are broken, just like you and me. They might be broken in different ways, but also fall short. With proper boundaries in place and enforced, we can love through the drama while not letting it control or corrupt us.

Truly, each of us is responsible for our own behaviors and responses, but if we are to love as Jesus loves us, then we can reach out and love the unlovable. We can be the one person loving enough to stick around long enough to be a conduit for God’s love and mercy and compassion to them. We can live out the worship we would otherwise only sing about in praise.

With God in us and surrounding us, He motivates us to face the world head on with His love, not shrink from it.