The "Hi-Life" is a restaurant in the Seattle area that has tied the price of its daily special to the stock markets.
The other night a nice Italian multiple-layered lasagna, salad, and garlic toast sold for $7.46. The evening close was 7,460, so the special was $7.46. Another evening the Dow closed at 6,870. In January the Dow was about 9,000. The price of the daily special may go down, but that is not necessarily a good thing.
It may be a daily reminder of the insecurity of our lives. It seems that almost daily we receive this message in a variety of ways, “You are insecure. You just thought you were OK!”
Some seek security in the approval or applause of others. There is nothing wrong with doing acts of righteousness that are noticed and appreciated by others. Our motives, however, are less than godly when we do acts of righteousness in order to be noticed. In Matthew 6, Jesus speaks of some Pharisees who are apparently focused on acts of devotion such as prayer, fasting, and giving in order to impress men and women with their spirituality. They wanted the admiration of people around them. Apparently, gaining the approval of the men and women around them became more important than the praise of God.
For years, I ignored this text as it applied to my life. I was pretty sure that I did not do good in order to be noticed. I didn’t think this was my motive. However, I began to reconsider when on certain occasions I felt anger welling up in me. I recall one particular moment when a person took credit before a church for an idea that I had shared with a few in private.
I recall an even earlier incident. Years ago, I was teaching part-time on the campus of a small Bible college. An employee of the school was a part of the church where I was preaching. One Sunday, he said some kind words about the message that morning. He said, "I am speaking in chapel on Tuesday. Do you mind if I use some of your thoughts?" I said something like, "Of course, you are welcome to do that. I am glad that in some way you thought this message might be helpful to some other people."
I went to chapel that Tuesday and heard him speak. Yes, he used much of my sermon; however, he never acknowledged that these were my ideas. I told myself that this didn’t matter. I told myself that I don’t preach to get credit. I told myself that I shouldn’t worry about the compliments that he was receiving afterward. And the anger I felt grew more and more intense throughout the day.
The issue right now is not whether or not he should have acknowledged the source of some of his thoughts. The issue that I am reflecting on at the moment is the pride and self-consciousness that was at the center of my thinking and heart. Regardless of what he did or did not do, my motives were not Christlike. Rather, my prideful spirit was simmering.
This is important. I encourage you to think about this. Why do I minister? Why do I serve in a church? Why do this work? Do my motives come from a heart that desires glory and honor for God more than anything else? Or, do my motives suggest that my "flesh" is still alive and that my ego is at the heart of much of this?
Are my motives always 100% pure? Probably not. Yet, to not wrestle with these questions may be an open door to motives that miss the heart of God.