I want you to take a second and ask yourself: Are my actions of love inspired by Christ?
Sometimes we are motivated to do actions of love and sacrifice because we want others to perceive us as someone who is selfless and sacrificial. Sometimes our actions, even ones seen as good, can come from a selfish place within our hearts.
But here’s the thing: If we are choosing our actions in order to serve our own self-image, then we aren’t really acting with a love that flows from inspiration given to us from Christ.
Recognizing this when it happens is not easy. After all, serving others is a good thing, and is even a sign that we love the way Christ loved. I realized lately that I have been caught up in serving others mainly because I want them to see me as somebody who is hardworking and always willing to help out. I was spending my time serving at every opportunity that was presented to me, even getting jealous when others would act before me to help someone else. I would distract myself by thinking, “that should have been me.”
My motivation was coming from a place of pride,
not from a place of joy
Helping others became a way to look good in front of other people, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I was so distracted and stressed that I failed to notice that my motivation was coming from a place of pride, not from a place of joy. The desire to appear helpful was so consuming that it took the power of the Holy Spirit working in spiritual direction to show me the error of my mindset.
When I came face to face with my sin, I couldn’t believe that I had turned something so good into something selfish. The external way I was choosing to live out my life, which looked good on the outside, was coming from an interior place that was disordered and not oriented towards Christ.
HE MUST INCREASE; I MUST DECREASE
Chances are you might be able to recognize some of this in your own life. I realized that in order to keep from falling into this trap, I needed to start discerning my actions and the intentions behind them. Ask yourself, “Where is the motivation coming from? Is it coming from a place in your heart filled with peace and joy, or is it coming from a place of selfishness?” Service intended only to be noticed by others, for your own pride, will feel anxious and hurried. The place that wants to serve because of genuine care for the other will bring you peace.
Look at John 3:30 where John the Baptist talks about Jesus: “He must increase; I must decrease.” In every act of service, we should ask ourselves if we are doing it to increase God’s glory, or our own.
As we are thinking of ways to better love the people around us this Valentine’s Day, let your heart be moved by God for the building of His kingdom. After all, our deepest desires aren’t for the building of our own kingdom. Every time we try to exalt ourselves above God, our soul will end up in a place of emptiness that feels dry. We are only filled when our love points to God. How will you choose to love?