Hey there! It’s bitterly cold here this morning – so grab something hot and a blankie and cuddle up someplace warm. So, I’m thinking of a phrase I’ve heard many times in my life, but please forgive the grammar. “Why do we do the things we do and who do we do them for?” During Lent, let’s bravely take a look at the deepest seat of who we are – what motivates us? We do lots of stuff every day. Why do we do those things? Is there a deeper reason we could be doing them?
The first thing that comes to mind is the job. Some of us love our jobs, some of us intensely dislike, dare I say – hate- them. So, why go? The obvious answer is to make money to buy the things we need to survive. But let’s look a bit deeper. Maybe we’re struggling to make ends meet and feed the family, or keep shelter over our heads or a car in the drive to maintain it all to begin with. Let’s look even deeper. Are we living above our means? Is the house too big, the car too fancy, the food too rich, the toys too expensive or too many? You know exactly what I mean if this is you. Are there places you could simplify your life? Lent is a great time for that. Pray and see if the Lord would have you make any changes. He is well able to guide you. If you need to talk to someone, go ahead! A pastor or priest can help, and also a good financial counselor.
Let’s look a little deeper. Maybe you’re living as simply as you can, and you’re grateful to even have a job. That’s a great start! But is there a deeper reason to go to that mundane, maybe even minimum wage, job every day? Do you come into contact with people? Maybe you can simply give a smile to each person you meet, and share Christ’s love in that simple manner. Share a positive word and lift their mood, or spark some thanksgiving in their hearts for what they have. Pray silent little ‘arrow prayers’ for each person you meet -a simple sentence prayer that God would bless them. Or does your job keep you isolated most of the time? You can use that time to pray as you work without much distraction. I don’t mean get-on-your-knees kind of prayers, I mean just bringing things to the Lord as they cross your mind. If you do maintenance work, maybe say a prayer for those who will use the space you’re working in. Maybe pray for their families, their conversion, or comfort or healing if you know something about them. There’s a wonderful book every Christian should read called “Practicing the Presence of God” by Brother Lawrence.
Maybe you do a lot of philanthropic or charity work. What’s your motivation? Let the Lord look deeply into your heart and find the truth. Is it just a ‘good thing you do’? Is it something that makes you look good to others? Or makes you feel good about yourself? There’s nothing wrong with healthy self-esteem! But, how often do we do things solely to make us look good to other people? Jesus said if we do our good works to be noticed by men, we have our reward in full – there will be no heavenly reward to come. (Matthew Chapter 6). Do you need to ask the Lord what HE would have you do in the charitable realm? Is there a need out there that affects your heart, even in some small way? Ask Him to fan that spark into a flame of love so that you get involved and do something about the need. That’s ministry. That’s pleasing to Him. Get the focus off how it makes you look or makes you feel good, and focus on loving those who have a need.
Finally, why do we practice our religion? Is it just ‘something we do’? Where’s our heart? Are we truly doing these things to worship the Lord, to honor Him, and to foster a growing relationship with Him? Or have we lapsed into going through the motions, or neglected it altogether? What sort of relationship would that be with our spouse, or our best friend? Lent is a great time to kickstart our hearts back to true devotion. Do we need to apologize and start again? Then do it!
If we need help uncovering our motivations, or need help redirecting them, we can always talk to a pastor or priest. They will be glad to help us sort it out, and can give suggestions on how to correct our motives. So, why do we do the things we do, and who do we do them for?