Have you ever seen someone do something good…but for the wrong reason? It appears that their motivation was out of whack. They may have helped someone by their actions (that’s good) , but the goal was self-centered (not so good).
Perhaps you helped the older woman neighbor take her groceries in…that was a good thing! But the reality is that you were going to look the other way and act as if you did not see her, until you remembered that she is rich and loves to reward helpers by giving them big tips.
So…was that a good thing (maybe)…bad motive (yes)?
I remember years ago my friend told me about a dream he had. In this dream he, his wife, and his mother-in-law were in a car crash, and they all died. Now I know all 3 of them…solid Christians…faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior. When they got to heaven, they were met by St. Peter who told them to follow him. They walked down a seemingly endless hallway.
At one point he told the mother-in-law to stand here. There was a small pile of stuff with a sign that had her name on it that was labeled “good works”. The man and his wife were led further down the hall to a pile that was twice the size of the other one. It has a sign with the wife’s name that said, “good works.” The wife was told to stand here.
She made sure to look back and let her mom see how much bigger her pile of good works was. Now the man (who is having this dream) went down the hall and was told to stand next to a giant pile with his name on it. He was waving at his wife and mother-in-law and making sure they saw how great his pile was!
There is an interesting verse in 1 Corinthians 3:13.
1 Corinthians 3:13…1 Corinthians 3:13…their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.
Back to my friend’s dream.
An angel came to the mothers-in-law’s small pile and tried to set it on fire. Nothing, it would not burn.
The angel then went to the wife’s bigger pile and most of it burned down to a pile ½ of her mom’s pile.
The angel went to the man having the dream and lit his giant pile and it became a giant bonfire. In the end only a few ashes were left.
That dream changed my friend…and me!
We should always look for work that does good for others….but what is a GOOD WORK in God’s eyes. One motivated by Him for His Glory.
The small catechism says:
“In God’s sight a good work is everything that a child of God does, speaks, or thinks in faith according to the ten commandments, for the glory of God, and for the benefit of his or her neighbor.”
It involves a child of God (a Christian)…the benefit of a neighbor (helping someone else)…to God’s Glory.
The guy in my story was a child of God, he helped someone else…but for his own glory and benefit! Not a bad thing to do but for the wrong reason.
1 Corinthians 10:31 says…So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
The goal is that people will see you (a Christian) in action and want to know more about the Lord you serve!
I (most pastors) quote Ephesians 2:8-9 often…For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
Folks…the good news is that God loves you and paid the price for your salvation…for free. You did not earn it and do nor deserve it by anything you do or say.
And then what? Sit back and relax? NO! Verse 10 says:
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
We are to do all we can to help those in our circle of influence. We do physical acts of kindness…we listen to them when they are hurting…we seek out ways to address their felt needs…..spend time, resources, energy for their wellbeing.
And our motive to bring God the Glory.
My challenge for you is to keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities to help those in need…but check your motivation…will God smile at your GOOD WORKS….are you doing it with one motive in mind…..To glorify your Lord and Savior who gave His life to meet your need of salvation.
HUMOR FOR THE DAY:
A big, burly man visited the pastor’s home and asked to see the minister’s wife, a woman well known for her charitable impulses.
“Madam,” he said in a broken voice, “I wish to draw your attention to the terrible plight of a poor family in this district. The father is dead, the mother is too ill to work, and the nine children are starving. They are about to be turned into the cold, empty streets unless someone pays their rent, which amounts to $400.”
“How terrible!” exclaimed the preacher’s wife. “May I ask who you are?”
The sympathetic visitor applied his handkerchief to his eyes. “I’m the landlord,” he sobbed.