The Mystery of Motive:
I volunteered recently to serve at our community food bank. One of the gentlemen who served there trained me. I was deeply impressed with all of the people who served but increasingly curious about why my trainer was serving. He was faithful to a fault and has served for many years. The work we were doing had more to do with re-stocking and unloading the food to be given to the needy. He had chosen this area to serve and over time it became apparent why.
He did not seem to have a deep affection for people. He had a great work ethic and was truly committed to the task. In the course of our conversations he laid out his life philosophy: The world was over populated. The problem with the world could be summarized in that statement. Less people, more available resources, more people, less available resources.
It seemed impossible to reconcile his philosophy of life with his commitment to serve. The only explanation I could arrive at was that his motive to serve was driven more by guilt than compassion. He chose to serve in an area that would have limited contact with the people who were in need. Motive for serving is as important as the act of serving itself.
“Always be suspicious of your own righteousness” (Jack Hayford)
There are right motives to serve and wrong motives. You can’t erase bad motives by doing right things. There is a difference between doing things right and doing right things. When motives are wrong things cannot be done right.
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms. (I Peter 4:10)
We serve because we have been given by God such great mercy and grace that it is a natural response of love. We have been loved, forgiven, blessed and adopted into the family of God. Nothing we have done or will do could ever earn this kind of favor. Our act of serving is just paying it forward just as it was paid forward for us. It is a response to the love we have freely received.