The robin on the power-line outside my window touts a worm in its beak. It doesn’t eat the worm right away, but thrusts it out, hopping this way and that. Trying to impress a girl, I guess. The worm will be dee-licious, but showing off comes first.
Maybe we all do that sometimes — but it shouldn’t get us down.
When we do something good, like grabbing a paper cup from the sidewalk or helping someone with a door, we may realize later the pleasure we took in being seen doing it. Mixed motives like that used to bother me, like, can’t I just do one thing with a pure heart? Well, no, I can’t. Our motives will always be mixed as long as we’re on this planet. It was so freeing to read that recently, so I’m passing it along.
Jesus isn’t keen on people doing good things just for the admiration. But if we discover that our best motives are tinged with a little selfishness, there’s no reason to dwell on it if our intent is to do something good.
If we take pleasure in being seen helping someone out, that’s not all bad – we’ve just set a good example! And it’s actually a virtue to do things that are worthy of honor.
So I don’t stress about mixed motives any more. Learning what is virtuous and asking daily for the grace to live it out is the real victory.