Matthew 6:1 introduces Jesus’ discussion about proper motives in doing good. He says, “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. “ The focus isn’t on doing the good deed as much as it is on “to be seen by others.” Thus, it’s an exhortation to test our motives when we do good things.

A couple questions we might ask ourselves regarding our motives are: 1) Am I more concerned about what God thinks about my life than about what others think? 2) Would I pray, read my Bible, give and serve as much if nobody but God ever noticed? 3) Am I more concerned about pleasing God than I am about being accepted and appreciated by men?

I don’t know about you, but I’m always struggling with my motives. I truly want to pure in my motives for everything I do in life, but I’m also a sinner. I just don’t trust myself. I think of Jeremiah’s warning to the people of Israel regarding the heart of man. He says, “The heart is desperately wicked and deceitful above all things. Who can know it?” I know that if I were to wait until all my motives were completely pure, I probably wouldn’t do very much. There have been times when I decided not to do something that I should do because I didn’t trust my motives. But I think it would be better, when my fear of impure motives gets in my way, I just try to do the good thing anyway. I’ll try to live with pure motives, but I’ll leave the ultimate judgment to God. John Stott once says, “Only one act of pure love, unsullied by any taint of ulterior motive, has ever been performed in the history of the world, namely the self-giving of God in Christ on the cross for undeserving sinners.”

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 5:3