I’ve been thinking a lot about volunteerism lately, and about all the people I know who put their time, energy and money into good causes. Surely such efforts are earning heavenly rewards for them all -- or at least for those who’ll be there because they repented of their sin and trusted the Lord Jesus to have paid its penalty on the cross.
But the other day, the passage above jumped out at me. Apparently in charity, as in everything else, our motivations are of supreme importance to God. As He told the prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 16:7b), “The Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
So it seems that not all charitable deeds are created equal, at least as far as the Lord is concerned. Does this not suggest that we should weigh our motivations when we consider giving away our time, labor or money? That we should seek out service opportunities where there’s literally nothing in it for us?
That can’t mean we should not enjoy our service; “the Lord loves a cheerful giver,” after all (2 Corinthians 9:7). But I do think it means that the most valuable service is what we can do for those who offer us nothing in return – those without resources, those who can’t introduce us to valuable business contacts, those who do not offer us “first dibs” access to things we value, those who won’t make us look good in the eyes of people we admire.
So by all means, let’s all freely give of our time, energy and fortune. But as we evaluate the wide world of volunteer opportunities, let’s not forget to factor our motivations into the equation – and perhaps focus on those that offer us no apparent payback. Because they’re sure to be the ones with the greatest need.