Recently I did something really, really nice for someone in town. I wanted this amazing act of kindness to be anonymous so I made sure I did it at a time when they wouldn't notice. I was super careful not to draw attention to myself when I was doing it because my desire was simply to serve this person and give some unsolicited help. And it was something that really needed to be done ... something that was truly beneficial to them. This was obviously going to bring some relief and peace to a weary soul. I couldn't wait to see this person overcome with gratitude, appreciation, and joy.
Want to guess what happened? I honestly don't think the person even noticed that anything had been done. There was no surprise, no gratitude, no sense of joy, no recognition of a "good Samaritan" who offered this service. Life just carried on as before, no relief or peace seemed to be experienced, and the weariness continued.
I was crushed ... I inwardly wrestled with how I felt about this. There were at least two things that bothered me. First was the thought that maybe my good deeds were fruitless, that I couldn't fix this person's problems, that perhaps doing such acts of service and kindness are ultimately a royal waste of time.
But there was actually something much deeper that troubled me. It was the truth that I didn't get any recognition or satisfaction from doing this thing. Even though I said I wanted to do it anonymously, the truth is that I wanted to be able to know and feel some appreciation and gratitude for what a good person I am. Sure, I said my desire was for this other person to feel some peace and joy and move beyond the weariness of life, but deep down I was the one who wanted those feelings. Though I said I was doing this most wonderful deed for someone else, honestly I was merely doing it all for myself ... for self-gratification, for self-promotion, for self-happiness, and for self-righteousness. Maybe the other person benefited from my action but that didn't satisfy me at all. How did I benefit? where was my joy?
This battle raged on in my heart for far too long before I concluded that good deeds are good deeds. A person's response to what I do isn't the thing that gives value to my actions ... rather I must simply consider whether or not I'm doing what's in line with the Gospel and most definitely sacrificial acts of service meet this standard. So I had to be content to do the good deed and leave the person's response in the hand of God.
Repentance is something we all have to do constantly, daily, throughout the day. And while we know we must repent of the wicked, sinful, evil actions and thoughts in our lives we also must often repent of those good things we do. If your motives are like mine we have a lot of repenting to do!