Truth Be Told #2: Jesus and Phoebe Buffay

Nothing like starting a blog with a clip from Friends…check this out before you read on.  

So do you agree with Phoebe?  Is there such a thing as a selfless good deed?

I can't tell you how many rabbit trails this blog has taken my mind down.  If the old school typewriter was still in use I would have ripped out and crumpled up 20 sheets of paper by now.  Even reading these words of Christ's didn't seem to help much.

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." – Matthew 6:1-4

Do you see the slipperiness of this idea?  The glaring abuses of this principle are not what trip me up.  I can see where using people for your personal gain are bad.  I understand the hypocrisy in feeding the homeless just so you can call the media to come and film it.  That I get.

The WD40 moment for me was that even in the most purest of hearts or humblest of Christian action there is gain involved.  Christ Himself, in verse 6, says "Then your Father, who see what is done in secret, will reward you."  So it appears that either way you slice it there is reward for the things we do. This, for me, was mind boggling and frustrating to wrap my mind around.  Because in my brain it seemed that any type of gain for my efforts made me devoid of any selflessness. 

So to put this in the context of Christ’s words in Matthew, we see the efforts of helping the poor in front of the equivalent of a NBC5 reporter for earthly notoriety vs. quietly feeding the poor without anyone around and eventually being rewarded in heaven by God the Father both work to my gain.  How is that possible?

It wasn't until I gave up the notion that the reward wasn't a bad thing that I figured it out.  I mean it only takes a quick flip through Scripture to see that God is a giving and generous God over and over and over to His people.   For crying out loud He is building us a room in Heaven so He must even get creative in how He rewards us!  So the idea that He is looking to not reward us for doing good seemed to be antithetical to who He was entirely. 

I had to look deeper and see that it was the motivation of the act that determined the holiness or unholiness.  I mean at the end of the day 50 lunches given to homeless people fills their bellies just the same, but the question of what fills your soul remains. 

  • Is it filled with pride or love? 
  • Is it overflowing with expectation or humbled by how generous God is to us?
  • Is it calloused with pity or softened with compassion?

The Truth that Jesus is calling us to is that our service to others should be acted out of the natural flow of being a humble, generous, Christ follower and not out of forced, calculated, results expectant effort.  Our motivation is not one of “What will this act do for me?”, but “How could I not help after God has been so gracious to me?” 

If we are honest, we ALL are needy and yet God didn't hesitate to send aid to us in the form of Jesus.  His earthly reward for that service was death on a Roman Cross, but in the end His heavenly reward is seeing us face to face in eternity. 

How great is our God that we can share in that victory…so take that Phoebe! 🙂 

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