Why do you do what you do? If you go to visit a friend in the hospital or sign the book at a funeral visitation or prepare a meal for someone, do you stop long enough to ask yourself why you are doing it?
In preparing for this Sunday’s lesson in our high school class, I came across this quote – “People are always motivated by at least two reasons: the one they tell you about and a secret one.” (O.A. Battista)
I’ve had to think through that a few times. Granted, there are times that we do something for other people out of the kindness of our hearts. They have a need that we are able to meet and we are moved to meet whatever that need is.
But I think there are also times where we might do something without the purest of motives. We may offer to meet that need knowing that we are supposed to do that or it presents a good image of who we are. We want people to think we are generous or selfless or compassionate so we do something for others that helps create that image.
In Matthew 6, Jesus talks about our motives when we give or when we pray or when we fast. Those are all good things, but Jesus warns against doing them to be seen by men.
I think the hardest work God has to do is in the human heart. I know I sometimes do what I know I should, even when my motives aren’t the purest. God not only needs to work on our behavior, but especially on the motives behind the behavior. I think that’s why God is so concerned with the heart. He keeps coming back to our motives. Some days it feels like we have a long way to go.