What Is the Best Way to Test Your Motives?

A Daily Little Lesson

Read the transcript of this video below.

What is the best way to test your motives? Hi, welcome to today’s Little Lesson. We’re working our way now through the Sermon on the Mount into the middle chapter. And the Sermon on the Mount of course is Matthew five, six and seven.

Picture of man looking at sunset, reflecting on motives

We’re in chapter six and Jesus deals with the heart of holiness, at least at the beginning portions of Matthew chapter six because He deals with motivations. God’s not just concerned about what’s going on outwardly in our lives, He’s concerned about what’s going on inwardly in our lives and in our hearts and He wants us to be motivated from primarily two things: First of all and foremost, love for Him, and second, love for others.

The trouble is so much of what we all do is motivated by love for self and that’s why even in the commandment where God commanded us to love our neighbor, He reminds us, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” He’s taking it for granted we’re pretty good at loving ourselves, so this is an antidote for selfishness. Look at how much you love yourself, how much you take care of yourself, how much you look out for yourself. Well get beyond that and love your neighbor as yourself.

The question that I asked at the beginning of today’s Little Lesson, what’s the best way to test your motives in what’s really motivating you, is something that Jesus talked about here repeatedly in Matthew chapter six, to make certain that your motives are right, that you’re doing what you do, the good things you do, the righteousness that you demonstrate is because of your love for God and your love for other people. Do them so that you can’t receive praises from people. That is, do it secretly.

Jesus coined a term here that’s become part of the English language at least and I’m sure it’s been adopted by in many other languages, an idiom, in Matthew chapter six and verse number three, “When you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” I don’t know if anyone chuckled the first time they heard Him say that. We’ve heard it so often that it doesn’t have that same element of humor that I think it would have had at first because of course your hands don’t know what’s going on anyways, but don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. That just implies secrecy, the upmost concern for secrecy.

Now specifically when giving to the poor, which is something that Jesus assumed that every Christian, every one of his followers would be involved in, right? Right. We talked about that in the last Little Lesson. Concerning that aspect of following Christ and doing the will of God, giving to the poor, just part and parcel of what every believer should be engaged in doing, Jesus says, “Make sure you do it so you’re certain that your motives are pure, that you’re not doing it to be seen by others.”

He specifically refers to the practice that apparently was common back in His day of people actually blowing trumpets to announce their distributions to the poor and ostensibly to attract the poor to, “Here’s a source of help,” but in reality so that other people will see you doing this nice thing for the poor and they’ll think more highly of you. When you give to the poor, do it secretly, don’t be blowing trumpets.

The first, I guess, obedience to that would be when you give to the poor, don’t talk about it. Don’t announce it. Keep it between yourself and God. You can go one step further and even give anonymously to the poor themselves so that they are not aware of the source. Because if you think about it, even when we don’t announce our giving or somehow make it public, there is usually one person who is aware of our giving and it’s almost unavoidable in many cases. If you give directly to the poor person themself then they’re obviously going to think more highly of you and they’re going to praise you and you’re going to get something out of it.

Can you figure out a way to give anonymously? You can give through organizations like Heaven’s Family, I might add, and that’s a way to do it anonymously but if you’re doing direct giving to the poor, you’re not using an agency, an organization or a go between or something, how can you do it so that you can be certain that you’re not even doing it just for the praises of that poor person? Giving anonymously, you can put some cash in the mail. You run the risk of it not reaching the poor person of course and you can’t put your return address on there or else they’ll know who it is and so forth. You can use an intermediary but then that person knows, so it’s not easy to do.

I guess what’s really important is testing yourself. We have people that give to Heaven’s Family anonymously if you can believe it or not. One time someone came to our office with a bag and they had a sign on the bag and it said what it was for specifically, to make loans to the poor. The person handed the bag and didn’t say a word to the person who answered the door and then walked out and left, never said a word. To this day we don’t know who that person was but when we opened the bag it was full of gold coins from various countries around the world. I think it was worth, it was tens of thousands of dollars worth of gold coins and that person was able to serve the poor anonymously. We didn’t recognize their face, at least the person who answered the door didn’t recognize their face. I suspect whoever did do it sent an intermediary. Maybe the intermediary knew what was in the bag.

Regardless, it showed me that somebody was at least trying to obey Jesus in this respect. I don’t think it’s necessary, by the way, because I personally believe that if somebody in Heaven’s Family who counts the money knows that you gave, they don’t know who you are so by all intents and purposes you were able to accomplish anonymous giving that way. Now if you happen to know the person in Heaven’s Family who is our accounts receivable person and you give to impress that person, uh uh. Now you got to figure out another way if you want to obey Jesus here.

Anyways, it’s not easy but I think that it’s worthwhile to think about because Jesus warned us if we’re giving to be seen by others, we’d get our reward in full, so we got to test our motive. You only know for sure when you’re able to give completely anonymously and you’re guaranteed to get praises from no one.

I’ve gotten a few anonymous gifts over the years and I actually don’t even really like them myself because then I have to be nice to everybody because I don’t know who gave the gift to me. All right, we’re out of time for today. Thank you so much for joining me. God bless you.