Spiritual Motivations

Proverbs 23: 6 Do not eat the food of a begrudging host,
do not crave his delicacies;
7 for he is the kind of person
who is always thinking about the cost.
“Eat and drink,” he says to you,
but his heart is not with you.

“Do you do good because you are loved, or in order to be loved?”

~Lysa Terkeust

We've all encountered those that seem gracious but behind that honeyed countenance your spirit can feel something underneath, something that says "danger! something is amiss!" When I was little we had a (possibly politically incorrect) word for people like that: indian givers....people who might give you something but they'll ask for something in return, and when they do you may not like the price.

I was such a person.

In fact I grew up surrounded by the lie that you gave to receive. I'd give, but not freely. I'd serve, but not without expectations. I'd love (if you can call it that), but not without a price attached. I was loyal, but I demanded it in return. I craved all these things and more, because--

Underneath all of those false senses of entitlement and expectations was a little girl who wanted desperately to be loved, and based on the culture I'd grown up in, I thought I had to earn it. I thought everyone did. And so I did things to get things, and I grew increasingly upset when I did not receive in return, and all the while the hole within my heart grew.

Relationships became hard for me to engage in and keep. I felt empty. I was pouring out and not getting anything back, and this left me frustrated, bitter, and most of all exhausted. What was I doing wrong? What was wrong with me?

Lysa Terkeust recently wrote a devotional for Encouragement for Today about spiritual motivation that specifically addresses this topic.

Doing something “so that we’ll be loved” is a trap many of us can get caught in. When I do something because I’m trying to get someone else to notice me, appreciate me, say something to build me up, or respect me more, my motives get skewed.

I become very “me” focused. I put unrealistic expectations on myself and the other person. And I can get stinkin’ angry when I don’t feel more noticed, appreciated, or respected.

I can get all twisted up and take my frustration out on myself and that person in an unfair way. I typically sabotage my own efforts and bend to discouragement and defeat.

But, doing something because I am loved is incredibly freeing.

I don’t view the relationship from the vantage point of what I stand to gain.

Instead, I look at what I have the opportunity to give. I am “God focused” and love directed. I keep my expectations in check. And I am able to lavish the grace I know I so desperately need. I live free from regret with clarity of heart, mind, and soul.

I was a girl who gave to get because I didn't understand that I already had.

God freely gave me His forgiveness and unconditional love, and here I was still trying desperately to earn it. It is little wonder that I became bitter, disillusioned, and angry at both the world and God.

There is a saying, "You cannot give what you do not posess." You cannot give out love, if you are empty. I was empty. And all I was giving out was a counterfeit version of the love that God intended.

That all changed once I really understood whose I was and therefore who I was. As I begin to be poured into and accept what was always available, I could pour out without expectations. I freely received and so freely gave.

Maybe you've been trying to earn love and approval too. Maybe you grew up in a family that demanded that you earn their affections....and now you wonder why relationships are so hard to keep. You wonder why you feel empty and poured out and why you never feel poured into. If you find that describes how you feel, simply ask Him, who freely gives, to show you the lies you've believed and the false motivations. I pray that God would give you a revelation of who He truly is and what is available for you--unconditional love, acceptance, and grace.

Psalm 23:6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.


  1. I can really relate to this because its hard to always give and feel unappreciated or not receiving back but that is why God is so amazing I can always go back to him for love so I can also give back to others that love


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