Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:3-5)
In God’s economy motives matter because he examines our hearts. God wants our service to be motivated by love for him and humans. If we are not motivated by love our service could become self-righteous service. Richard Foster in Celebration of Discipline provides a description of what self-righteous service looks like. A summarized version of his description is provided below:
- Human energy versus energy from the Holy Spirit;
- Impressed with the “big deal” and concerned with impressive gains;
- Requires external rewards (to be seen and appreciated);
- Likes reciprocity in kind (some kind of pay back);
- Picks and chooses who to serve (usually the high and powerful get served);
- Affected by moods and whims.
If any of these descriptions characterize our acts of service then we need to question our motivation. By contrast, I believe the acid test of proper motivation is this; does the act of service originate from love? 1st Corinthians 13:4 – 8 serves as a great barometer of motives:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
What do you think?