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Meant for Good (Week 3 Recap - November 13, 2022)

Who is Your Audience?

Being the middle child of the family, I was mostly known as the entertainer. If I felt like the room was heavy, insistently I would try to lighten things up by dancing or performing. Deep down inside of me, I have always had this inner pull to please everyone. Often my gaze is outward, seeing the needs and wants of the people around me. When I would discover a friend or family member in need, I would gladly step in to “help fix" their problem. I mean, wouldn’t want my help?! Or so I thought…

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you Lord ~ Psalm 19:14

Motivations are tricky and sticky because true motivations are only known by you and God. I like to see motivations like an internal wiring that exposes the meditations of your heart. Motivations are your incentive and it is what drives you to act in a certain way. So you could see for a person who is inclined to please people, often the motivations are driven by trying to be seen, known and loved by the people around them. When you constantly gaze outward, that will become your source of life. Need to feel loved? Go help someone. Need to feel seen? Step out and let people see your good deeds. Need to feel known? Enter the race of trying to keep up with the Joneses, being known for your righteousness and good works. Asking yourself "who is your audience" can play a vital role in keeping your motives in check. Jesus warns us to check our motives in three areas, generosity, prayer and fasting. These areas will reveal whether our motives are self-centered or God-centered.

{Generosity} "Be careful not to practice your righteousness in from of others to be seen by them” Matthew 6:1

Self-focused: Jesus knows us too well and understands how easy it is to get off track. So He warns us to pay attention to our true motives. Often times these can be realized by the outcome of an action. When you give to others, do you think it is important for others know? When you give a gift, are you waiting for a thank you? When supporting a friend in a worthy cause, do you find it important to insert the dollar amount with your name next to it, so others can see how generous you are? In other words, do you give to get? That can often expose the motivation behind the action.

God-focused: Jesus tells us when we give, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. If your audience is God, you won’t see the need to announce your generosity. We are to give in the pleasure of giving and response to God’s love. He nudges us to help those in need. We are His hands and feet and He loves to use us in that way. So it is important to listen and make sure we don’t make it about us, receiving the praise.

{Prayer} “When you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you and pray to your Father in private” Matthew 6:6

Self-focused: In a room full of women you can easily find yourself self-conscious when you pray. Insecurities can appear and the need to impress people can easily arise. Jesus warns us when we pray, not to be pray to impress people. Actually, Jesus uses the word hypocrite to warn us from such behavior.

God-focused: Our unseen God notices you most when you are unseen by others. When it comes to our prayer life, Jesus tells us what to do. He says to go away, shut the door behind you and pray in private. In that moment your audience can only be God. It is in that space of richness where you commune with your Father. He will guide, teach and lead you into His ways.

{Fasting} “When you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do” Matthew 6:16

Self-focused: Fasting is an act of personal sacrifice. The point of doing this practice is to take something you already do in your life and insert God into that time. Often times people can fast from food, however, the things to fast from are vast. However, Jesus asks each of us this poignant question, “Why are you fasting?”. If you find yourself in the middle of a circle of people sharing all the sacrifices YOU are making in order to get closer to God… that maybe a sign to do a self check. There is no need to state how hungry you maybe or how YOU can fast from social media in order to get a pat on the back. It can easily become about what YOU are doing in order to receive some sort of recognition from others.

God-focused: Jesus reminds us to go about our daily life not letting others know what we are fasting from. What is the point in telling them any way? If the real reason for fasting is to get closer to God, shouldn’t it stay between the two of you? Jesus teaches self sacrifice is to be done quietly and sincerely. These spiritual rhythms are wonderful and essential to our growth however we need to be doing them from the right reasons.

I think most people tend to be people-pleasers to some degree or another. There is beauty in being mindful of others; honoring their feelings and caring what people think. However, it shouldn’t be the driving force behind the behavior. Some times it takes a minute to even become aware of your true motivations. That is why Psalm 19:14 is such a beautiful and honest prayer to pray to Jesus. Let us go to our Father with tender hearts and open hands… praying…

Father in heaven, you created me, know me and see me. Help me to see myself the way you see me. I want YOU to be my true source for Life. Let my words and meditations of my heart always be pleasing to you. Point out anything that maybe offensive and point me to ever lasting life in You.

In Jesus name, Amen

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