English Standard Version (ESV)
Why do we give? Why fast? Why sacrifice? Do we do it so that God will notice us, so that God will see our sacrifices and reward us for being diligent servants? Or do we do it because we delight in God, because we can't help but think of new ways to serve and honor God, because we think of new ways to share God's love with those around us? Do our choices draw us closer to God, or are they designed to impress God?
I was reading an article the other day about how the real cause of the Titanic's sinking may have been a fire that drastically reduced the hull's strength, so that when it hit the iceberg there was little integrity left to protect the ship from calamity. The outward appearance of the hull may not have revealed this material weakness, but below the waterline there was great damage that would cripple and destroy the ship.
In the same way, our motives often lie unnoticed, damaging the integrity of our lives but often in small and subtle ways, ways that may not be seen by others, but they are at work in the depths of our hearts, crying out for attention and directing the self inward. Over time, our lives become more self-focused, and in times of trouble, the true self is revealed.
May we strive for integrity, to build lives that are strong inward, that have spiritual disciplines that draw us closer to God and help us recognize the true nature of the relationship, as sinner and Savior, that we may depend on God for his strength and comfort.