20 February 2015
Reading: Luke 6; Psalm 43
8 But Jesus knew their thoughts. He said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” So the man came forward. 9 Then Jesus said to his critics, “I have a question for you. Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” 10 He looked around at them one by one and then said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored! (Luke 6:8-10 NLT)
On a Sabbath Day, Jesus was teaching in a synagogue, and a man with a deformed right hand was sitting right in the front row. Maybe the Pharisees and rabbis had planted him there, because they were watching closely to see if Jesus would heal him and thereby, in their eyes, violate the rules of the Sabbath Day by “working.”
Jesus called the man out in the open at the front, asked the rabbis and Pharisees if it was legal to do good on God’s Day, and healed the man. His critics were furious!
The Pharisees and rabbis saw the handicapped man as a test of Jesus’ commitment to the details of the law. Other observers saw the man as an example of God’s power to heal. Jesus used the healing to make a point. Did anyone actually care about the poor guy, or was he only a test or an illustration or a project?
I don’t have to be concerned about Jesus’ motive for doing good. The gospels are clear that he was “moved with compassion.” I don’t have to be concerned about Father God’s motives. God is motivated by his perfect love. I do, however, need to be aware of my own motives for doing good.
It’s possible to do a good thing for the wrong reason. To look good. Or to make a point. Or to assuage a feeling of guilt. Or to attempt to earn points toward heaven. Or because it feels good. Or because I’ve made someone’s need a project. Like helping the poor without ever really getting to know them. You know what I mean?
Father, I want to do more good. More good things, more helpful giving, more investing of myself and my time, energy, and resources in helping others with their needs. And also their hopes, dreams, and possibilities. But please help me keep my motives right. Nothing I do is to merely make a point and no one I serve is merely a project! Amen.