What motivates us to be who we are? What motivates us to do what we do? It is good to evaluate what drives us in all areas of our lives, especially when it comes to giving and serving others.
I grew up in church. My parents were servant leaders in the church. We were the family who’s lives centered around the church schedule. We were there “every time the doors were open” because dad had the keys to the building. My mom played piano, my grandfather led music, my grandmothers on both sides of the family taught me in Sunday School. My dad was a deacon, then an elder, as well as the high school teacher. So when I got to be a teen, he was my teacher. My uncle and aunt were also leaders of our church. I write all this to let you know how important the work of the church was to the family.
I relied heavily, as anyone would growing up in this manner, on the faith, the example, the love and motivations of parents, uncles, aunts and grandparents. I watched them help people, give what they had, and nurture people in the ways of God. But even in what seemed right, they were not perfect in all ways. Sometimes their motivations for doing good was to meet their own needs for making themselves feel needed and valuable.
When we do good for others from a heart with wrong motivations, selfishness seeps into our being and makes the right action tainted. We begin to do good for our own desires to FEEL good about ourselves. This seeping selfishness gives birth to unbecoming expectations. We expect immediate gratification and praise from the receiver of our gift. We then crave and expect recognition from the Body of Christ and from God Himself for our good deeds. Sometimes we even cry out to God in bad times with, “see what I’ve done for you” using our good deeds as bargaining chips. Yikes!
Soon family members would remember that it should be from a heart wanting to please God alone. Often they did good deeds for others that I never saw, only heard about later…at their funerals! My grandpa was probably the best at doing good for others and keeping it quiet because of his tenacious love of God with all his heart, mind and soul. He helped others in his work as a carpenter and in his community as well as for the church body. He was the family’s example. His legacy of giving and helping others lives on in our family. I see it in my children and their children.
This self motivation thing happens to ALL of us who are so used to doing church because that is the right thing to do that we forget to be the church in our every day life. Being trained to serve well does not mean that our intentions are good in serving. We need to daily evaluate why we do what we do.
People have needs in this world. When God guides us to be His hands and feet to meet those needs we simply obey. If only God knows the deed was done, and we are content and at peace that it was done “unto God, not men”, (Colossians 3:23) then the motivation was right and good. Pure hearts lead to pure motivations to give expecting nothing in return and doing it without thinking about the deed itself, only God.
It’s not about us. It’s all about God.
The world says do good and you will feel good. But Jesus says…
Matthew 6, NIV
Giving to the Needy
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Why do we do what we do for others? A self examination wards off danger of self.
Dear Heavenly Father,
With your teaching, you pull us back into line with your holiness. You see our hearts. You know our minds. You save our souls. Thank you for continuing to transform us to be more and more like you and less like our nature of self. Thank you for guiding us and inviting us into your work. May it all be for your glory, praise and honor. We can do nothing of good unless you are in it and we are connected to You.
In Jesus Name, Amen