Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Right Motivation


I couldn't decide whether or not to send the text message. Encouraging another to use his gift for building others up seems reasonably good. That text message, though... It could have been sent and helped. It could have also not been sent and helped. Why the difficult decision?

There has been a project at Marian these recent weeks, a project that was wrapping up a few days ago. A friend of mine found a niche in performing well within this project, and his success brought joy to others - me included. Surely enough, I wanted to encourage him to use his gifts further. I punched out a quick text message. Before I sent it, though, I thought about why I was sending it.

I thought about how I, often, act when others seem to agree and benefit with an action that I also see as good. To put it simply, when I like what others are doing I encourage. When someone else benefits me somehow with their action, I often try to encourage that action. This can be as simple as someone kindly bringing my mail to my room unexpectedly or even something like commenting on how I read at a morning Mass. In either case, I often, subconsciously act in ways that will get similar reaction. We all have experiences like that. Many of us are living out our walks of life in some small way because of the encouragement of another to help us find our particular path. Kind words from others is a way we understand Christ's Body (us) and God's will in action here and now. So, it isn't a bad thing.

Basically, in hesitating on the text message, I realized that while encouraging my friend could be good, I was unsure of the reason behind my encouragement. Was I encouraging to benefit some personal agenda? Was I encouraging to benefit him? Could I be doing a great injustice?

Sometimes I struggle with seeing to it that my actions lead others to Christ rather than to myself, another person, their own selves or to less-than-True ends. I had encouraged this friend often recently, and my positive action of reaching out may not be "positive" in the end. Often, I tend to think of loving my neighbor (Mk 12:29-31) as a positive action, positive in the sense of doing or saying something to another. As I stared blankly at my text message, I realized that maybe loving is also about not getting in the way.

Holding back that text message might end up being as great an act of charity as giving. Maybe greater.

As I sat in the chapel after that difficulty on what to say to my friend or whether to say anything at all, I read these passages from Daytime Prayer:
"I disclosed my ways and you answered me;
teach me your statutes.
Make me understand the way of your precepts;
I will ponder your wondrous deeds.
My soul is depressed;
lift me up according to your word.
Lead me from the way of deceit;
favor me with your law." (Ps 119:26-29)
...and...
"Rather, let all parties think humbly of themselves, each of you looking to other' interests rather than his own." (Phil 2:3-4)

Ask (for understanding) and you shall receive (understanding)...

Either way, we need to be sure that what we do is for God and our neighbor. I can only get in the way of another's pursuit of truth, by not lending a hand unnecessarily or by withholding something good. Charity isn't always easy, to give when we don't feel like it and to hold back when we really want to act. To be free to act so as only to build another for his or her own sake and for the sake of our Lord... that is the right motivation.

"Teach me discernment and knowledge for I trust in your commands." ~Psalm 119:66

Image source