This week At the Well is asking the question, “Are my motives pleasing to you, God?” Whether we are single or married, have children or childless, I’m sure that we have all asked the question.
About 7 years ago, I was going to school to become a social worker. I was working on my associate’s degree and had to take a class on ethics. The professor made it clear that he was an atheist and, at the time, I wasn’t saved but I didn’t question the existence of God, either. One of the topics we discussed in class was the idea of altruism. The definition of altruism is “the principle or practice of unselfish concern for or devotion to the welfare of others.”*
For someone to be altruistic, they must be “unselfishly concerned for or devoted to the welfare of others.”† This particular professor was very pessimistic and didn’t truly believe that people could truly do for others just for the sake of doing something for another person. He made it clear that he believed that no matter what, there was ALWAYS a selfish motive behind every good deed that people did. I’m not sure if he included Jesus in that. Unfortunately, at the time I wasn’t bold enough to ask.
Laurie from At the Well asked four questions this week about our motives.
As someone who went to church as a kid because my parents made me, I can honestly say that as an adult, I go to church because I WANT TO BE THERE. Now, please understand there are weeks where I say, “Can’t I just sleep in this week?” because sometimes I just make myself so crazy during the week that I just feel so tired when Sunday morning comes around. I still make it, though. I love our worship, I learn so much from my Pastor and his understanding of the Word that I can’t imagine going to another church. (That’s not to say that God may put me in a position where I may have to move somewhere and won’t be able to attend my church but this is where God has placed me.)
I can say that there have been times in the past when I have done something for the recognition. When I was younger, I was the wallflower who wanted to be noticed for doing something good. (My younger and only sister was always getting good grades without much effort and she was the band major for our high school her senior year. It was difficult being known as “Meghan’s sister.”) I can’t say that I’ve done something because I was going to get paid for it. Although I have financial hardships like other people, it’s hard for my to take money for doing something nice for someone. Even when go somewhere with a bunch of my friends and I drive, I never ask for gas money (although I will give gas money when someone else drives).
For me, although I didn’t grow up in a “Christian” home, my mom was always, always doing for others – especially family and occasionally at a monetary cost to her and my father. She never did it for the recognition or to be able to say, “I loaned you money so now you owe me” or “It cost my $X to do that for you, please pay up.” When someone did recognize her for something she did, it was much to her embarrassment. Of course, she did get frustrated sometimes with people who she helped out that never changed their ways, but she continues to help others – including me and my sister.
Being that I’m not yet a wife and mother, I can’t say whether I would help out in a classroom to analyze the teacher or to just help out. I do help out with the youth group at my church for the 13-18 year old age group, though. Sometimes I help out because I just like being involved with the kids. Most of the time, I pray that when I do spend the time with them, I am imparting some knowledge to them. Being that I’m not their parent and I only see them twice a week at church services, I don’t know how much of an influence I am to them. Only time will tell.
Mmm… This is probably the hardest one for me. Right now I am living with 3 other single, Christian women and have been doing so since September, 2007. Although it has been somewhat of a revolving door with roommates, there are three of us who have been there from the beginning. I am very close to one of them.
She is the one I go to the most when I need to vent or just to talk about the things of the Lord. She is very trustworthy and is mature in the Lord so I trust her discernment. I also trust that if I ask for prayer on something, she won’t just go to anyone to share my request. I can’t say the same and this is something I need to work on.
Nine times out of ten, when someone confides in me, I will pray about it myself and usually will not share the request. However, in the last six months or so, there have been some major issues that have come up in our household regarding respect of others in the house. This has caused some division and that is regrettable. In one instance, one of my roommates said something to me about another roommate that I was surprised to hear. In a moment of being upset at this particular roommate, I told our fourth roommate what was said. Now, I don’t believe that the roommate I told will say anything to the other roommates about what I said, but I still shouldn’t have said anything.
Now that I have answered these questions, next time I do something for someone else, I will have to ask myself, am I doing it because it is something pleasing to God and out of place where I am not going to be rewarded for it other than knowing that it please God and helped someone else?
I hope you are blessed today,
* altruism.” Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. 09 Feb. 2009. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/altruism>.
† “Altruistic.” Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. 09 Feb. 2009. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Altruistic>.