As a Christian, is doing 'Good Deeds' because of your faith just trying to curry favour?

(24 Posts)
alienshavelanded Mon 11-Mar-13 17:27:51

Thanks for your posts, they've been really interesting, and helpful smile

Because I have a strong faith and know for sure that it'll be OK after I pop my clogs, it's made me a bit more secure in the knowledge that I'm not doing it for my own benefit, but the bits I get out of it are a pleasant addition.

I don't expect anything in return in a karma kind of way, I do genuinely not want other people to feel the uncomfortableness I know life can dole out through no fault of your own, (and don't care even if it was their fault).

Yes Niminy, the cost to you of the act is what I was trying to get at I think. I think of the rich bloke in the Bible (can't remember which bit) getting rid of all his stuff and cash and leading a simpler life helping other people, I couldn't do that I know, but it puts the very small things I do into perspective and shows they don't add up to much.

But the key thing about good deeds is that their importance is not what they do for me, but what they do for other people.

I like that very much. smile

niminypiminy Mon 11-Mar-13 11:34:47

Doing good deeds doesn't make you good.

Terrible sinners can do good things. A deed is just that: a deed. On the other hand, doing good things is like a kind of habit -- you can train yourself to do things for other people as a matter of course, and over time it will become more of what you do.

Real moral growth and change comes, however, not when we do good deeds and feel good, but when we do something that really costs us, and when we don't feel good at all. It's fine to put something in the food bank -- it's a good deed, and doesn't cost me very much. But it would cost me if I committed a proportion of my food budget, every week, to the food bank, or if I were to give up my time to help run it, or if I were to invite hungry people into my home to have dinner with my family.

But the key thing about good deeds is that their importance is not what they do for me, but what they do for other people.

BonfireOfKleenex Mon 11-Mar-13 11:12:43

JoyfulPuddleJumper - well I'd say the atheist is 'extra' good for doing it without hope of heavenly reward wink

But seriously, I think most people, religious or not, do stuff for others for complex social reasons - to feel part of a community, a naturally kind nature, basic human instinct - whatever. What makes me a bit cross is when people want to give the all credit to 'God' for some reason...

This is something I've often wondered about too, interesting thread.

A follow-up question: if a Christian and an atheist both do the same good works are they equally good people or is the atheist better because the Christian is doing it because the Bible says to? That's a bit convoluted but I hope you get what I mean.

marjproops Mon 11-Mar-13 11:00:12

James chapter 2, verse 14.....- faith without works.

Im the same, OP, were not supposed to do things for brownie points or curry favour woth God, yet the book of James talks bout helping others, and the whole 'do unto others' thing too.

It makes me feel good if I can help someone, and yes, i suppose Id like God (at SOME point)to smile and say 'good girl!, now Im going to bless you'.(which is not happening atm) but i DO want to do things for the right reasons, because I want to serve.

either way, its better to do a good thing than nothing at all, again, James chapter 2,verse 14.....

JakeBullet Mon 11-Mar-13 10:50:40

I don't know why others do good deeds at all but I do them because I am human and I want to help. Tbh my faith doesn't come into it at all although I know it's part of my faith as well,

As others have said, I think the intention is the key. If you would be doing it to curry favour, then the concept of 'tough love' wouldn't exist.

Kindness is also sometimes treating people better than they deserve.

Rowan Williams : Turning the other cheek or going the extra mile [kindness] requires courage and imagination: it is essentially the decision not to be passive, not to be a victim, but equally to avoid passivity by reproducing what has been done to you. It is always something of a miracle.

BonfireOfKleenex Mon 11-Mar-13 10:36:32

What about the reward of the good feeling you get from helping someone - does that not count as 'doing something for reward'?

cheekbyjowl Mon 11-Mar-13 00:06:53

Oh and by the way I should add that I forget this all the time! I often think 'yo God. Did you see how early I got up to help at church this morning, really early' smile. So your post has been a good reminder to me tonight to thank God that he's already saved mesmile

cheekbyjowl Sun 10-Mar-13 23:29:28

That's a great question and I second the post above. It's great that you are doing good things. I guess I would say that the motivation for doing good things comes as a response to God's grace. Whats amazing is that We are saved by God not by the things we do but by what He has done for us (Jesus). There might be better examples but the parable of the tax collector and pharisee in Luke gospel is a good read. The pharisee misunderstood god. He thinks his good deeds will get him into heaven so he's motivated to win Brownie points with God. His deeds are good (giving praying etc) but his motivation is wrong as he expects a reward. but the tax collectors knows nothing he does will help him earn his way to heaven except to ask God to forgive him and turn his life to God. The parallel isn't exact but the tax collector knows he has no good deeds that can save him so he repents. But God's gracious salvation is a gift so it would be right for the tax collector to want to thank god by doing things that please him. Not to earn his favour but just to show love.

So I think that's where motivation should come from, not to curry favour with God but to show how he has loved you in your actions.

Knowsabitabouteducation Sun 10-Mar-13 12:53:24

It's not biblical to try to work your way to heaven. Salvation by Works is a false doctrine.

If, OP, you are choosing to do good deeds in order to get something in return, then you are mistaken. If, OTOH, you find yourself doing good deeds without really thinking, and if you find that you can't help yourself but to help others, then this could well be an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

A Christian can't hide their faith. Living the Christian life means doing things for other people. The good deed is the effect of being a Christian. It can take a while to square up the earthly view of "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours", doing things because they will benefit you, and keeping track of favours. The heavenly view is very different.

alienshavelanded Sun 10-Mar-13 00:21:31

My thoughts definitely aren't with storing up brownie points or other suss motivations, (or perhaps they are and I'm kidding myself, no, double thinking myself is far too complicated grin) maybe it's me hoping it's not those things which set me off wondering about it in the first place.

I do love the idea of Gods Big Book Of Good Deeds grin

Lots of crossings out and untidy notes in the margin.

I don't even do that much in relative terms to be charitable tbh, perhaps it's just all a bit of a self inflicted guilt trip making me over think it.

BonfireOfKleenex Sat 09-Mar-13 23:33:19

It's an unmeasurable thing really. If you make chicken soup for the homeless, you could look at it in many different ways, eg:

a) good karma points for you in heaven (or your belief equivalent)
b) benefits for you in other ways (eg self esteem, social standing)
c) a tick in the 'positive' box of global economics
d) a tick in the 'life is exploitative and shit' box (if you're a chicken)

But you can't really think of it as a selfless act if while you do it you're imagining Jesus (or equivalent) up there going 'well done YOU, I'm keeping a seat warm for you up here in heaven'. Or indeed if you gain social brownie points right down here on Earth. Not a reason not to do nice stuff, but probably better for society to be honest with yourself and others about your motivation.

Tuo Sat 09-Mar-13 22:42:24

What would be wrong would be to do the 'good deed' with the idea of storing up 'brownie points' against some future wrongdoing (kind of: 'I'll put this food in the food bank and then it won't matter if I go home and beat my wife, because I've done my good deed for the day'.)

Any other motivation seems fine. A good deed is a good deed.

intheshed Sat 09-Mar-13 20:01:40

Because if you are a nice person it gives you a warm fuzzy feeling to do something nice for others. I don't think there is any deeper meaning than that.

DioneTheDiabolist Sat 09-Mar-13 19:51:45

So you put food in the food bank because it makes you happy, it makes the life of someone experiencing difficulties easier and it is convenient for you.You feel good, someone else feels good, the people in the food bank I'm sure are glad. Your DCs benefit from a happy mum. The DCs of the recipient benefit from a less stressed mum. Everyone's a winner here. I dont know if god has a Big Book of Good Deeds, but you are certainly making other Humans happier and from a Christian POV, Jesus said that if you do kind acts for people, you do them for Him.

Brilliant.grin

DontSweatTheSmallStuff Sat 09-Mar-13 17:59:39

I think I know what you're trying to get at cos sometimes I think along similar lines myself.

I don't think (believe) it makes any difference in terms of getting on God's good side. The main basis of Christianity is that our sins have been forgiven through Jesus already so technically we don't need to do any balancing. However just because we don't need to doesn't mean we shouldn't try to do good/selfless things.

There could be a whole host of reasons why people help/give to others. It could be for the warm fuzzy feeling, it could be guilt as in they feel guilty they have lots while others have nothing, it could be the way they've been brought up and it's just natural for them to do it iyswim .As far as the warm fuzzy feeling goes, i think it's only natural to feel good about helping other people. Maybe that's the whole point. We help someone, they get the help they need/want and feel better (hopefully), and we feel good about helping them. Win/win situation surely?

hiddenhome Sat 09-Mar-13 17:58:03

I don't think it matters. As long as you're not being an awful person in RL, then trying to salve your conscience by doing these good deeds. God can't be fooled or bribed grin

alienshavelanded Sat 09-Mar-13 17:46:56

I think that's what I'm asking (in a very roundabout way grin) hidden, does it matter?

alienshavelanded Sat 09-Mar-13 17:45:23

Straight in there with the difficult questions Dione grin

Some of it's because I've been down on my heels and know what it feels like and don't want other people to feel the same.

Partly because it makes me feel better about myself.

Plus it's an easy decision to make and doesn't take a lot of effort, but I can tick boxes that I'm doing the right thing? Lazy in other words.

Does that make it not what the Bible's talking about maybe? That putting yourself out is what the message is trying to get at?

I don't know, are some kind acts more worthy than others because of the reasoning behind them?

hiddenhome Sat 09-Mar-13 17:42:08

I think it's a bit of both really and does it really matter at the end of the day? smile

DioneTheDiabolist Sat 09-Mar-13 17:34:24

Only you know why you do good deeds. No one else can answer the question for you, but I will ask you and you can answer it.

So, why do you put food into the food bank Alien?

alienshavelanded Sat 09-Mar-13 17:26:16

As an example, sometimes I buy £10 worth of food to put in the food bank bin at the supermarket, but I wonder at my reasoning behind making the decision to do it.

Am I doing it because I want to 'get on Gods good side' and trying to balance out the scales of my deeds when they get stacked up at the end of my life? Like in medieval times when people would build an Abbey or something in order to set themselves up after they die.

Or is it purely selfish because I want to think of myself as a kind or good person, or I'm banking being good to offset for when I'm a crap person?

It's difficult to explain grin

Does the instruction in the Bible saying you should give yourself over to the service of others and be charitable etc make any stipulation about the reasoning behind the acts?

It says to seek out places where you can help others, does it acknowledge that it's nigh on impossible for someone to do something purely for the act of selfless giving.

I know two people who are seemingly completely selfless and give to individuals and the community with relish, one is a committed Christian and the other isn't. Can they be doing it for similar reasons of self gratification (like the warm fuzzy feeling it gives you)? And does that matter if they're both helping support other people?

Can anyone tell me what exactly I'm trying to get at because I've not got a clue grin

(I have a really strong faith and am loosely C of E but don't really go to services for reasons other than I don't like them)

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