As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.” Mark 12:38-40
One of the greatest things one can do is to be honest with oneself. It is good to do charitable work, or to be at the forefront of great tasks like city transformation or nation building or evangelism, or even lead a church or a discipleship group, but we must pay strict attention to personal motives. Questions we can ask ourselves are: Do we do good because of the pure motives of love and kindness? Or do we do good because we only want the attention that good deeds bring? Are we desperately hungry for the respect of people? Do we do good things only for the honor of position?
When it comes to loud or public prayers, many are made (and it is good to pray!), but how much of the prayers sincerely escape our lips as pure incense before the Lord? Are our prayers merely to show people how pious we are?
How is our integrity before the Lord? Yes, how is the purity of our hearts?
Jesus was with his disciples, watching as a crowd put their money into the treasury. Many people gave huge amounts, but a poor widow dropped in two small copper coins.” Jesus said this of her:
“Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” Mark 12:43-44
What an honor for this simple widow’s heart to be revealed! Outwardly, she was poor. She wasn’t giving the amount that most people did. She wasn’t making a show. But God who knows the hearts of all men and women, knew that the two coins the widow gave were everything to her.
This kind of heart meant so much to God.
What we do on the outside can be easily judged by many, but we have a God who searches the deep places of our hearts and minds. Purity and integrity matter to Him. Our good deeds are good, yes, but our motives must be weighed.
As we do things for the Lord, it is good to search our intentions. He is the ultimate Person we live for and please. One prayer we can say to the Lord is to ask Him to weigh us—or to search our hearts like the Psalmist did:
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24
May we be people of integrity; people whose deeds have beautiful motives behind them.
Janina Marie Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of One Voice Magazine, a teacher of world literature, and a student of the Bible. She enjoys reflecting on life’s curve balls and plateaus. She resides in the Philippines, the country known for people who smile a lot.