This summer we’re studying one of Jesus’ most famous sermons, the Sermon on the Mount. In this blog, Kristen Pepe talks about how our motives matter.
I love serving others. There’s something about helping someone else that I find deeply rewarding. But sometimes I get caught up in the me aspect of loving others. How great I feel when I do it or how amazing I am for helping them.
I know God calls me to love others as He has loved me (John 15:12) but far too often in loving others and serving others my focus is more on me and what I’ll get out of it. Instead of seeking to please the Father, I find myself seeking recognition for myself. I brag to friends hoping they’ll congratulate me for being such a great servant of God.
I’m pretty sure you won’t be surprised to hear that that’s not at all how Jesus calls us to live. In Matthew 6:1 he addresses this very issue saying,
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.”
Jesus is very clear that when I make it about me, I’ve got it all wrong. Our motives matter.
But when we find that our motives are not pure, what can we do to fix it? We focus less on us and more on Christ.
Jesus gives instructions for how we should serve others,
“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.” - Matthew 6:2
When we focus less on us and more on Christ, being charitable is something we do out of the overflow of God’s love. It’s not about telling everyone on social media about how we served others.
“But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that you’re giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” - Matthew 6:3-4
When we focus less on us and more on Christ, it’s enough that only He knows.
He also addresses the importance of having the right motives in our spiritual disciplines.
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.” - Matthew 6:5
“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.” - Matthew 6:7
Our prayer life shouldn’t be about sounding super spiritual or praying just for other to hear our words. He tells us instead,
“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” - Matthew 6:6
When we focus less on us and more on Christ, our prayer life changes. We become sensitive to the needs of others and are in tune with the promptings of the Holy Spirit. When we focus less on us and more on Christ, our prayer life brings God glory.
Maybe you can relate. Maybe you’ve gotten caught up in the praise of others, the desire to please others, or you’ve spent more time focusing on yourself in your spiritual walk instead of Jesus.
Check your motives. When we allow our selfishness to get in the way, we’re missing out on the true reward God has for us. But when I concentrate my efforts on pleasing Him alone and bringing Him glory, He notices and there is eternal reward.