Summer Allen: Motives

Home » Meditations » Meditations » Summer Allen: Motives

All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord. Proverbs 16:2

“One example of how cultures differ in their attitudes toward generosity can be seen in a comparison between people in the United States and the United Kingdom, based on surveys of the giving practices and social attitudes of people from both countries. Studies of giving in the U.S. suggest that it is “heavily interlaced with self-interest, either directly through tax benefits, benefits from the supported charity, or social status; or indirectly through the achievement of social goals which one might desire, such as better child care, civil rights, better parks etc,” whereas the norm in Great Britain appears to be more altruistic: “They have traditionally rejected mixed motives for giving, and are quite suspicious—particularly of philanthropic giving— because it is so rarely able to live up to popular expectations of purely altruistic motives.”

Summer Allen in “The Science of Generosity” White Paper produced by the Greater Good Science Center.

It’s easy for us in our cultural settings to judge others as exhibiting “self-interest” or having wrong motives related to anything, such as their charitable giving. We must avoid this critical mindset.

For example, I got away to the mountains for a night with my wife. To some, that might be a selfish act, while others might see it as a strategic decision to rest and get quality time with my wife.

What’s my point today? Our cultures might label as suspicious any behavior that fails to conform to norms. We need to allow God to weigh our motives and aim only to please Him in everything we say and do.