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- Jacob Ninan
Everybody, including unbelievers, likes those who show kindness to others. Those who make sacrifices to alleviate the burdens of others are highly admired by all. It is not difficult to obtain donations for most charitable works. It makes us feel good to give something or do something in such contexts.
But is it from the goodness of our hearts that we seek to serve others in this way or do we have other motives? Some people obviously do good in order to gain some 'points' with God. They think God will bless them or even overlook some of their sins for their 'sacrifice'. Typically people who commonly resort to many unrighteous practices hope that they can compensate for it by doing some good.
There are others who do good for the sake of the notice and admiration they get from others. They may not be so eager to do good from their own initiative, but if someone asks them, and especially if their name is going to be mentioned publicly, come up in the list of donors, or engraved on something they donate, they will be happy to give much more than they really like to give. Jesus said that their 'reward' would be just the honour from man, and they would not have any blessing from God (Mt.6:1,2).
How different it would be if we do good from the heart and as unto the Lord (Col.3:23)! Then it would first of all be genuine, and it would be pleasing to the Lord. When it comes from the heart it does not wait for appeals from people, and when it is done unto the Lord we are not looking for applause to come from people. It gives us tremendous joy to be a part of God's hand reaching out to needy people. And if people's praise comes our way we can quietly attribute it to God who took us unworthy sinners, washed us with the blood of His Son, accepted us as His children, and enabled us to do that good deed for which He provided an opportunity (Ep.2:10). We can also acknowledge ourselves as 'unworthy servants' who did only what our Master equipped us to do (Lk.17:10).
At the same time we must recognise that it is not far from us to take delight in the admiration of people and take the glory that only belongs to God. It's in our flesh, and the delight comes naturally and spontaneously. The more we recognise the importance of 'grace' over our lives, and how foolish it is to value honour from man as being more important than what God thinks about us, the better we can learn to combat this evil tendency in our flesh. Satan is quick to place thoughts in our minds about how good we are, how much sacrifice we are willing to make for others, etc. But we need to be really convinced in our mind that anything that is good in us is from the Lord (Jas.1:17;Ro.7:18). Modern teachers tell us to think 'good' thoughts about ourselves, and to hide from us how hopeless we were till God redeemed us, and how incapable we are even now without God's help. We are strong in the Lord, but only as long as we abide in the Lord (Jn.15:4,5).