No matter what we do in life, there is always a reason behind our actions. It may be obvious or it may be hidden, but we do everything with a motive. Two people may do almost the same thing, but their reasons for doing it may be very different. People can get so caught up “doing” good works that they don’t realize the motive behind their actions can reveal what’s in their heart.
In Luke 18:10-14 Jesus tells us the parable of two men who went into the synagogue to pray. One man stood up and declared loudly what a great person he was while the other humbled himself before God and asked for mercy because he knew he was a sinner. The first man looked good to people around him and so he prayed loudly for public attention, but the second man was humble and sought God’s heart. They both prayed, but their motives were very different.
Many people believe that it doesn’t matter why you do something, just as long as you do it. We’re encouraged to give to benevolent organizations because we’ve been taught that it’s good to share with the poor, sick and needy. And while it IS good, many people don’t have the heartfelt conviction to give because they want to help, but rather, they give because they feel obligated or because it makes them look good.
We need to see “motive” in front of everything we do in life. Why do we do what we do? Is to please people or to please God? Is it to exalt ourselves or to help someone in need? If what we do is in obedience to God and is directed to help others, then we do it to the glory of God and not for our own attention, reward or praise.
When we give money to an organization that helps people in whatever cause it has chosen, we should give whatever we can to help support their cause so that people can be blessed. But no one needs to know how much we give because it’s between us and God. God sees the heart. He knows whether the money we give, be it a dollar or thousands of dollars, is from the heart or out of vanity. God rewards us on the size of the heartfelt gift, not on the size of the physical gift.
- Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: 4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.—Matthew 6:1-4
We often hear of Hollywood celebrities who give large amounts of money to help support starving children in the Third World and they love to brag about these good deeds. People admire them and they receive all the glory for giving this large amount of money. Some have given $10,000 publicly, and others give $100,000.00! We look at them as such special people because they have given so much—but have they? It’s a lot in our eyes because most of us don’t have that kind of money to give. But when we realize that they are multi-millionaires, it’s actually really chintzy that they’d give only that amount when they have more in the bank than they’ll ever spend anyway. But it sure makes them look good!
- They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.—Psalm 12:2
Whenever we do something that we know will give us a public reward and make us look really good in the eyes of the people, we have to know that what we did was for our own vanity; for our own glory. We didn’t do it to help the cause and we certainly didn’t do it to the glory of God.
Whether we’re giving to others or buying something for ourselves, we always have a reason for our choices even if we won’t admit it. People buy massive luxury homes with many bedrooms and bathrooms and with every admirable feature possible, but is it because they need it? Or because prestige is everything?
Motive is the incentive behind all of our actions and it directs everything we do whether we realize it or not. What we do may look good on the outside to others as they admire us for our wonderful deeds, but what about our heart? Whatever we do in life, it should be done to the glory of God and NOT to impress man or to brag of our own greatness.
Truly, we reap what we sow. Those who like to give publicly and receive all the glory will indeed receive the glory while on this earth, but that glory will be temporal. And those who give in secret so that God is glorified will receive their reward openly in Heaven and it will be eternal.
- Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.—Galatians 6:7
The reason we do things—our motive—really defines who we are. When we do things to bring ourselves recognition then we have made ourselves the god that we serve, and when we do things to give God the glory then He is our God. We can lie to our friends and we can deceive the world around us, but God knows our heart.
- Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.—Psalm 19:14