It is a question I have heard dozens of time. Sometimes it is not even verbalized. It is conveyed in a roll of the eyes or the groan of disapproval. As we get older we get more sophisticated in our approach. We no longer ask the question out loud because we know the situation. The card file in our mind flips through a long list of excuses and we find one fitting for the occasion. “That is my family night” or “I give in other ways” or “I am already involved elsewhere” are often our veiled ways of pushing away tasks that have no benefit to us.
I say this not as a perfect example of service. I write this because I do it too. When asked to do anything my mind does a quick evaluation and tries to determine if I will benefit because of my participation. “Will I get paid to do this?” “Will there be some sort of recognition for my service?” “Now they owe me.”
While my natural inclinations are to do activities that will benefit me in some way I am called to something more by Jesus. In the book of Luke it Jesus says this:
Luke 6:32-35 If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even “sinners” love those who love them. (33) And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even “sinners” do that. (34) And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even “sinners” lend to “sinners,” expecting to be repaid in full. (35) But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.
Jesus challenges us to be people who do good things even when there is no benefit to us. We love and we do good and we loan all without a hope of getting anything in return.
I find this teaching to be one of the most unnatural things that Jesus tells us. My human nature wants me to spend my time doing things that benefit me. Jesus wants me to spend my doing things that benefit others.
I don’t know about you but I need to be continually reminded that the biggest question of my activities is NOT, “What’s in it for me?”