I was talking (okay... emailing) about this with a friend of mine the other day. "I want to do good things, but then I WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW," I admitted. She admitted similarly.
I bet you can relate. You'll happily make the meal when visitors come... but you want them to know it was you making it and not Mum. You'll do an extra chore without asking... but you want a hearty thanks afterwards and recognition and praise for wow, your hard-core diligence! You'll clear up the chairs after coffee at Church, but let's be real, just so people will be like, "Wow, s/he's a good, Christian individual." You'll maybe pray long, because you know people are watching and observing and you know they'll admire you for it. You'll talk to the handicapped child, but mainly so that people will thank you for it afterwards.
I'm going to stop using 'you's... because this is me. So often, this is me. I want to be good, but it's for the wrong reasons.
I thought about this for a while and I decided: This is ironic! It is! I want to be good for God; it's why I want to be good - but then literally, while I try to be good, I do it in a way that is not good. It's ironic. It's sad. It's selfish ambition - a serious sin in the eyes for the Lord, by the way. It's the devil trying to turn a good ambition into a bad one. It's not cool.
I (so far, each paragraph in this post starts with the word 'I' - I mean, speaking of selfish ambition, guys) recently have started to listen to podcasts and I've (so far) listened to two that really helped me on this subject area. I realise I'm mainly parroting what I heard in the podcasts, but it was good stuff and I think it's worth a repeat.
The first podcast I listened to is called "Glory to God Alone." I started listening to it, thinking, oh yeah, this is going to be about God's amazing power and His Glory and how we should glorify that!" But when I finished it, I identified myself as a Glory robber.
Glory to God ALONE. (Alone being the keyword here!)
We are Glory robbers. We take the glory, praise and honour that should all go to God and we want it, so desperately, to fall on us. We want to do good, but we want to get the glory for it! The glory we feel we deserve; the Glory that has to go to God alone.
The second podcast (Francis Chan... my favourite; he makes a thirty minute long sermon seem like ten short ones!) is called "Reputation vs Character" (listen to it plz) and the image Francis used to describe the message he was trying to bring out was really, really good. It struck a chord with me. I love it. He said that it's stupid for us to focus on our reputation (aka what people think / aka getting good character reviews from other people / aka craving good opinions) rather than our character. Francis brought his listeners to an imaginary setting of a guy who'd always put up a good reputation - a guy who did bad in secret. In this story, the man dies and goes to hell. "Will this man be like; oh, it doesn't matter; look - the people on earth at my funeral all say I'm a good person, so it's fine?" Francis asked the congregation.
It's stupid. It's not about our reputation. It's about our character - it's the real deal, not a play. If people think you're good, that doesn't make you good. God decides.
Being good is more than just doing. You and I, we have to do it for the right reasons. Let's try again!