Your motives rather than your deeds tell what kind of a person you are. Our motives are often hidden, even from ourselves. Only an extensive evaluation of why we do what we do will reveal our true motives.
Most of us will pride ourselves on the same benefit we give to others. Suppose you have $10 to spend for a meal, but on your way to the restaurant you met a friend, say even a stranger. He has no money, and has not had a meal for some time. You give him your $10. He rejoices. You have to miss dinner.
You have obeyed a scriptural principle, lived sacrificially and are pleased with yourself. You did not begrudge the gift. Have you not performed a good deed worthy of reward? You were not coerced. You were not obligated. You did not begrudge the gift. Was your action truly selfless?
Not necessarily. Let us evaluate your motives. Did you expect the poor man to praise you, think more highly of you than he ought, or speak highly of you to others? Did the good feeling that you knew you would have, or the inner peace you have for doing the right thing, motivate you? If so, your motives were not pure. You got what you wanted. You did a good thing – better than stealing what little the man did have – but you did not give your best spiritual service. Never offer God less.
Even in good works, even in the Lord’s work, it is easy to find ourselves self-serving. Outward service, without a pure heart, is unacceptable as an offering to God. It is easy to wash the outside of the cup and leave the inside unclean. It is easy to whitewash a tomb and ignore the corruption inside. It is easy to pray like a Pharisee – even fast. No one knows the motive, nor will they concern themselves with it. You will be respected by society. Yet, you will not be acceptable to God.
The inside, your heart, must be cleansed. Only the blood of Jesus can cleanse your heart and instill pure motives. “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it” (Jeremiah 17:9). Unless the Lord searches the heart and tries the reins, you will never get to the depth of your own depravity. Calling Jesus "Lord" is more than legalistic obedience to rules and commands. Sheer grit and obstinate determination to do good things will go far to appear righteous and dispel worldliness.
Pleasing God is much more than actions and appearances. In fact, it is not much more at all. It is something different entirely. Pleasing God involves complete confession of sins, repentance of them all, and asking Jesus to cleanse you by his blood. Man looks on the outward appearance; God looks on the heart. When you search for him with all your heart, he will reveal and produce what needs to be done on the outside.
When God does a work in your heart, your behavior will change. The new behavior comes from a change of desire that God has instilled in you. Any attempt to be religious, find self-satisfaction or earn the blessings of God is utterly contemptible. Be not deceived, God is not mocked. You do not find peace with him by serving with selfish motives. You only serve yourself, and for that there is no reward.
One day, in Heaven, we will be pure. Until that day, may we judge ourselves lest we be judged. Let us eat the bread (body of Christ) and drink the wine (blood of Jesus) with single-mindedness and pure hearts. Let us examine ourselves for motives worthy of our Lord, and then partake of him – lest, as many, we are weak and sickly. And, yes, some sleep (I Corinthians 11).
Whatsoever you do, whether you eat or drink, do all to the glory of God.