Taking Credit for Our Actions
150 When we do good things so that we can take credit for them, we are not doing them because we love to do good things, but because we love to be rewarded. When we take credit for the things we do, we want to be repaid--the reward is what we consider enjoyable, not the good things in themselves. This means we are not spiritually-minded, but materialistic.
151 If we want to do good things that are truly good, they have to come from love, which means doing things just because they are good. When we have this kind of love, we do not want to hear about taking credit for what we do. We love to do good thing s--it makes us feel very happy. On the other hand, we feel sad if people think we are doing them for selfish reasons.
It is almost the same when we do good things for our friends just because they are our friends, or for our brothers because they are our brothers, or for our spouse and children because they are our spouse and children, or for our country because it is our country--in other words, when we do good things for people out of friendship and love. When we think carefully about it, we will say and persuade people that we are not doing these good things for our own sake, but for their sake.
152 When we do good things in order to be paid back, our good actions do not come from the Lord, but from ourselves. We mainly look out for ourselves, because we are looking out for our own good. To us, other people's good--the good of our fellow citi zens, human society, our country, and our religion--is merely a means of achieving our goals.
So behind good things that we do to get credit for them is hidden the good of our own selfish and materialistic love. This kind of goodness comes from ourselves, not from God--and any goodness that comes from ourselves is not really good. In fact, as much as selfishness and materialism are hidden behind it, it is harmful.
153 When we have real kindness and real faith, we have no desire to take credit for what we do. The joy of kindness comes from goodness itself, and the joy of faith comes from truth itself. When we have this type of kindness and faith, we know what it is like to do good things without wanting to take credit for them. But we have no conception of this when we do not have kindness and faith.
154 The Lord taught in Luke that we should not do good things to be repaid:
If you love people who love you, what thanks will you get? . . . even lawbreakers do that. . . . It is better to love your enemies, do good things for them, and lend to them without hoping for anything in return. Then you will get a large repaym ent, and you will be children of the highest one. (Luke 6:32-35)
The Lord also taught in John that the good things we do cannot come from ourselves if we want them to be good:
We cannot receive anything unless it is given to us from heaven. (John 3:27)
And in another place:
Jesus said, "I am the vine, you are the branches . . . Just as a branch cannot produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me. . . . Anyone who remains in me, and whom I remain in, produces a great deal of fruit. You can do nothing without me." (John 15:4-8)
155 Since all goodness and truth come from the Lord, and none of it from us, and since anything good that comes from us is not good, we cannot take credit for anything--only the Lord can. It is the Lord's integrity that rescued the human race by his o wn power, and which rescues us when we do good things for his sake. So in the Bible, people are called "fair" when they have the Lord's integrity and fairness associated with them, and "unfair" when their own fairness and integrity are associated with the m.
156 Real joy, which comes from loving to do good things without wanting to be repaid, is the reward that lasts forever. The Lord puts heaven and unending happiness into this kind of goodness.
157 If we think and believe that people who do good things will go to heaven, and that we should do good things so that we will go to heaven, that is not making reward our goal or taking credit for what we do. People who do good things from the Lord t hink and believe that way. However, if we think, believe, and do things in order to get to heaven, but do not love goodness because it is good, then we do want a reward, and we do take credit for our actions.