Sunday, October 24, 2021

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Just Looking Good

We all do things for a reason. Whether it is for good or bad, we all have a reason for our actions. Criminal investigators and profilers spend their entire lives researching and studying criminals in order to gain insight into their minds and why they did what they did. Profilers look at their childhood experiences and adult lives to determine what could have caused criminals to commit their crimes. By gaining insight into their thought processes, investigators and profilers hope to use that knowledge to prevent another crime from happening.

But, studying a criminal mind isn’t the only way we can gain insight into the inner workings of people. We can study each other. Have you gone to a mall or public venue and just sat and watched people? If you haven’t I encourage you to do so. It is very fascinating to study people and watch them. You will see people do things that seem just out of the ordinary. You will sometimes wonder why they did certain things.

As you watch people, you will see people doing things for good reasons. Some will open or hold open a door for another person. If someone has his or her hands full and drops something, someone will quickly run over and pick up the dropped item and, in some rare cases, will offer to help carry the load. I have been in both positions. I have helped others and have received help from others.

For example, a couple of years ago when I was in the hospital fighting for my life, I would leave my room and help the nurses with things like decorating or organizing bulletin boards. It wasn’t a major effort on my part, but the nurse who I was helping greatly appreciated the extra hand to hold up a border while she stapled it into place. What I discovered is that even the smallest gesture of kindness done for the right reason can make the biggest difference in another person’s life. 

You noticed that I had added a phrase to my statement, “for the right reason”. It is truly about doing things for the right reason. If you do something wonderful only for the good of the person receiving it, then you have given a special gift to that person. If you, however, do a nice thing for the selfish reason of recognition or hoping to receive something in return, you are doing things for selfish or evil reasons. 

It is all about our motives. If we do things for others for the sake of doing good, then we are doing those things for the right reason. Our rewards don't come from the world, but our action is recognized by our Heavenly Father. It is that recognition that we should strive for in our lives.

In chapter six of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says, “Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

Jesus talks about our motives for doing things. In the case of giving, if we give only for the sake of earthly recognition, then that is all that we are going to receive. We are recognized by others and that is our reward and that is all we receive. It is often said that all glory is fleeting. When it comes to earthly glory and recognition, that saying is completely true. In time the words of praise will fade and become only a memory.

However, if we do what is good for the right reason, our reward comes from our Heavenly Father. He sees all that we do. If we do things in private and to bless another person, then the Lord will bless us. If we truly are children of God, then we should only be seeking His approval and not the approval of people.

In the past I have seen many try to curry the favor of the few. They go out of their way to be kind to those who have money, fame or power. Their goal is to seek their praise and recognition. They strive only to be seen in the eyes of the rich as being virtuous. In the past couple of years, a new phrase has entered the lexicon of humans, “virtue signaling”.

As I was preparing for this message, I did some research on that phrase. In Wikipedia, virtue signaling is defined as “a form of moral grandstanding, in which a viewpoint or answer is calculated to ‘look good’, thereby making the object or speaker appear virtuous to others, rather than being chosen because it is strictly honest.”

It is often said that people who are virtue signaling are empty and have no morals. Their moral systems are corrupted by the world and they only want one thing, to be seen as morally superior to others and seen as being good and virtuous. Our actions should not be in accordance with the ways of this world. Our actions should only be one with the Lord’s will. We should only do things that are righteous and for the right reason.  

In chapter two of his book, James writes, “For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, ‘You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor’—well, doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?

If you are finding yourself doing things for the sake of earthly recognition or for evil, selfish reasons, then I ask you to reflect on your actions and seek God’s guidance and wisdom. If you seek His approval, I can guarantee you that your Heavenly Father will see your actions and bless you beyond measure. So, give in secret and don’t seek the approval of others. If you do as the Lord directs, you will definitely stand firm in His grace.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. 

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