Do Motives Count?

Pastor Corey C. Hodges made the follow statement in his sermon in the SLTrib (8 Jan 2011):

. . . God does not simply judge a person’s actions but their motivation; doing the right things for the wrong reasons does not please God. . . .

This logic would seem to be fraught with all kinds of problems.  For example, what if a Christian helps the poor because he is commanded by Christ to do so?  Or alternatively, an atheist helps the poor because he feels in his heart that it is the right thing to do?  What if a professed Christian starts out helping the poor because it is a commandment, but ultimately does it because he feels its the might thing to do?  What about the missionary who commits good deeds because he hopes for converts?  Is that a noble motive?

If the poor are helped, does it really matter what the motives are?  It does if the person or group has less than noble intentions, ie. keep a ruthless leader in power.  But if the motive is benign but egotistical, I’m not so sure.

If Bill Gates helps the poor because he is shamed into it, but ultimately catches the vision of the work, do his motives ultimately matter?  The poor are better off no matter what his motives.  If Bill Gates is doing it to improve his legacy, so what?

If a corporation wants to help the poor as atonement for past actions, is that bad?  If they want to use it as a bribe so they can pollute the local environment, that’s a different story.  My point is, let’s not get involved with overanalysis.  Let not put too fine a point on motivations.  I’m not sure I always understand (0r care about) my motives.  Sometimes I just do something because I want to, it is a random act.  Think of it as benigh anarchy.

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This entry was posted in @n@rchy, Religion, Social Justice. Bookmark the permalink.

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