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Preacher Feature: Do you wonder why do we do what we do? God knows

By Ernie Fowler
Contributing writer
updated: 3/13/2022 6:44 PM

Why do you do the things you do? If you ask someone that question, he may respond with, "I don't know."

Have you ever asked the question to your child and received that common response? "Why didn't you get home before curfew?" "Why did you fail that math test?" "Why did you say that to your little brother/sister?" Each of those scenarios may end with the child's go-to defense: "I don't know."

"I don't know" is generally a lie. If a person truly doesn't know why he does the things he does, then I would suggest they he has a mental health issue. If you are going through life not knowing why you are doing what you are doing, then something is seriously wrong.

Most of the time we do what we do because we want to. There is some perceived benefit to us for doing what we do. Often a teenager will respond with, "But everybody else is doing it." Some do things because it sounds like fun. Others do things because there is a thrill in trying not to get caught.

If you have ever asked someone why he/she doesn't attend church, you might get the common "I don't know" response. To those individuals, I have this response: "Liar, liar, pants on fire!" Generally, when people don't attend church it is because they don't want to. As a pastor, I get a chuckle when I see someone who hasn't been to church in a Sunday or two. My typical statement, "I missed you in church Sunday" is usually met with a ready-made excuse the person has ready to pull out of the holster just in case he runs into the pastor later in the week.

I'll play along. After all, I'm just the pastor. Nobody owes me an explanation and, quite honestly, what I think doesn't matter. There is one, however, who cannot be fooled. God knows exactly why we do or don't do the things we do or don't do.

The scenarios I have provided so far are more for why we do the negative things we do. There are times, however, that we need to explore why we do good things. If the motive is not right, then nothing is right. Doing good things should be based on our desire to glorify God and reflect Jesus Christ. With God as our compass, we should only do things in our life that demonstrate our integrity, honesty, and pureness. What we do in our daily life should be all about seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness.

While there are no right ways to do a wrong thing, there may be many wrong reasons to do the right thing. For example, two men court the same woman. Both show affection, buy her gifts, and sweet-talk her. Both men outwardly seem to be treating the lady well. The difference is that one of the men genuinely has a love for the woman. The other man is after her money.

Another example is when two men pray in church. Outwardly both men pray beautiful, seemingly heart-felt prayers. The difference is that one man prays out of love for God while the other man is trying to impress a member in the church who is considering hiring him for a job. In both of these examples there was an appearance of goodness on the outside, but under the surface it was the Devil who was providing the motive.

In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:1-6), Jesus stressed the right motive when he said religious acts, prayers and offerings are to be done with an eye to God in seeking His approval. We are not perfect. We all fall short in this area from time to time. Quite honestly, some people with good intentions and motivations still do stupid things.

It is, however, not up to any of us to judge another person's motives. We cannot see into anyone else's heart. We can give many different answers to the question, "Why do you do the things you do?" Remember that only God knows the true answer to that question.

• Ernie Fowler is associate pastor of Pankeyville Baptist Church in Harrisburg.