Duty or Love?

In the Christian culture, certain things are expected out of us. These range from giving money to charities, reading your Bible, and praying before each meal. All these have a biblical basis and it's generally accepted that these are good things. We walk the walk and talk the talk, satisfied we're doing what's right. But is checking the box all that matters? Is there more to it than that?

The Pharisees in Jesus' time did all the right things. They tithed, dressed in the correct way, and taught the people. They were known for their good deeds. But Jesus condemns them one day with the words, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you too, outwardly appear righteous to people, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23: 27-28, NASB.) To Jesus, it didn't matter what they did if they didn't have the right attitude inside. Just because you do your duty doesn't mean you're walking according to God's ways.

You can serve at your church with the intention to make yourself look good. You can brag about how much you read your Bible and make someone feel bad because they can only manage a small section of verses each day. You can spew out Bible verses in a debate and make yourself look smart and pious, all the while drowning out someone else who has a perfectly sound opinion. None of this is right. The actions don't justify the attitude.

However, when you're motivated by love for God or others, the results are different. When you serve with a humble spirit, God can use you. When you talk about your Bible time and encourage the other person, that'll give them the boost to carry on. When you bring up a Bible verse in order to help someone understand a topic, it may shine some light on their path.

Our attitudes and hearts can transform how we affect somebody. People can detect wrong motivations easily and are turned off by them. If we are going to reach people and please God, we must be motivated by love.

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