And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:3 (KJV)
Way too many folks are lulled into a sense of well being by how benevolent they are. They feed the hungry, clothe the needy, provide housing for the homeless during the icy winter months or give toys to the kids at Christmas. That these are noble and right things to do, there is no doubt. But, how does God look at such things?
Others are filled with a kind of spiritual pride at how sacrificially they serve their “God,” their “Church,” Organization, Community or a favorite cause. Unfortunately, the only benefit they will ever realize is how good it makes them feel at the moment.
You see, everything that is done with a selfish motive is useless and sinful in the sight of the Lord. Self gratification is the furthest thing from the heart of God that there can be. Motive is everything. Even feeding starving children can be a sinful act motivated by self-centered pride, a gnawing guilt, or fear.
Don’t misunderstand me here. I’m not saying that doing any of these acts of kindness are sinful in and of themselves. In fact, quite the opposite. I thank God for any need that is met by one who cares for others, no matter what the motivation.
What I want to point out is the simple but profound truth that is found in our verse for today. In the economy of God, there is no profit to the benefactor who does such acts without them being an overflow of the love, agape, of God.
This simply means that our show of benevolent intent should have its beginning in the heart of God and that it should be an expression of His love through us. It is the same for sacrificial service of any kind. Even “missions” can be a sinful act if it puffs up and makes the flesh proud. The love of God in Christ for the souls of every kindred, tongue, people and nation is the only acceptable and profitable cause for the missionary. Gods love felt and expressed is the only right motive of the Christian.
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