Throughout each day, the time and energy you expend goes toward something. If you have a traditional job, much of the work you do goes toward producing something for your employer, at least it should. If you do what you are supposed to be doing, you usually get a paycheck in return. Depending on where you live, part of your paycheck goes to pay taxes, insurance, social security, and other things you are required or choose to contribute toward. After work, maybe you get to hunt down some food for your family, so you can all eat together when you get home. If you have a couple hours of free time, maybe you spend it on your favorite hobby, trying to be entertained by the latest thing across the screen, or some other endeavor which you value. By the end of the day, you have given of yourself for your boss, government, family, friends, community, and maybe a little for yourself or even your God. Who do you serve?
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’ Luke 4:8
Though we may think we give a lot of ourselves to others, much of what we do is really for selfish reasons. Would you go to work for very long if you did not get paid to do so? Many pay for a higher degree in hopes that they will get a better job when their education is finished. We usually get some reciprocal benefit from the time we spend with our family and friends. Undoubtedly, if you have children or grandchildren, you have invested much into who you would like them to become. You may even hope they shine like stars as a reflection of how great a parent you are, or that they will be there to help you some day when you need it. We hope that all our time and energy goes toward something better for us, even if good feelings, when all is said and done.
No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Matthew 6:24
When we look at the motive behind our actions, in the short or long term, it is usually to benefit ourselves in some way. How often do you give your time and energy to someone who can never return the favor? Giving a one-time quick gift to someone you may never see again doesn’t take much effort, but investing weeks or years in someone else who can’t do the same for you is much more difficult, even if a friend or a family member. Even if you are paid to do something for others, it can be physically and emotionally draining to do this long term. Has anyone ever invested this much in you? Maybe your parents, or a close friend who walked with you through tough times, but do you feel God has been with you through the good and bad as well? How much does He have invested in you? We may not realize it often, but Jesus did this for us on the cross. Our servant-leader gave of himself something that we can never fully repay or match.
Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people. Ephesians 6:7
So, every once in a while, take a deep look at the reasons behind why we do what we do. What am I hoping to get from this, or what benefit is it to others? If we have tried to spend time in the Word or prayer and seen few results or little return for ourselves, we most likely will commit less time toward this in the future. How has that worked? Maybe we were looking for the wrong things to begin with. How we spend our time affects not only us, but those around us in a positive or negative way as well. Ask God to show you your true motives and allow Him to guide you to grow in seeking less for yourself and more for others.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3-4
Yours in Christ,