It’s not always what we say that reveals our emotions, but how we say it. You can say the nicest words in the world but spoken in the wrong attitude, it comes off as snotty, rude, or sarcastic. We’ve had this conversation with our seven-year-old many times. Jesus talks to the Pharisees about this same concept in Matthew 12. The attitude or heart behind the words or actions is more important than the actual words or actions. The Pharisees are supposed to be the most religious people in the area, yet they are blind to the fact that Jesus is the son of God. Instead, they plot to kill him and ruin his reputation. Outwardly, they appear righteous, but inside, their hearts reek of evil. He tells the Pharisees that a man displays what is inside. A good man produces good works and an evil man produces evil works. No matter how good our works, if they are produced from an evil or reluctant heart, they are not as good as we think they are. The good that we do should be driven by an internal desire to show love and honor to God. The Pharisees did good or lived a righteous life because they wanted recognition from the people not because they were filled with righteous hearts doing good for the Lord. Jesus warns against being like them. We must take a look in the good works mirror. Is what we do a reflection of our heart? Or is it a cover up? Are we angry, frustrated, or annoyed when given an opportunity to serve, but do it anyway because it looks like the right thing to do; because we don’t want to look bad; or because if we don’t do it, no one else will? It’s okay to say no to service if our hearts and the Lord are not behind the service. Jesus tells us that our hearts will show in our works; we bring out the things stored in our hearts. What’s in your heart? How does that show in your life? If your heart and your actions don’t match, it’s time to let the Holy Spirit in and do some cleaning so that the mirror is no longer a fogged up smeared mess, but instead a reflection of the Lord living inside.
(I’ve been reading The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst. It’s a great book about evaluating our decisions and saying no to service if the Lord is not the motivation.)