In the end, motives do matter

By REV. DARRYL WOOD / Guest Columnist

“Kool-aid, Kool-aid, tastes great! Wish we had some, can’t wait!” That jingle touted one of the best brands ever. Kool-aid remains a staple in many American kitchens.

Ten-year-old Benny Barnes of Lake Charles, La., used his Kool-aid for a good purpose. He made news recently by raising more than $1,300 for tornado relief in Spring Valley in St. Clair County. Benny did it with a Kool-aid stand. His motivation was the people from Alabama who came to help his family after Hurricane Rita in 2006.

Kool-aid executives took note. They jumped on Benny’s train and donated another $10,000 to the cause. The people that run Kool-aid aren’t dummies. That contribution got them valuable nationwide media exposure.

You have to give the Kool-aid folks credit. They did a good thing. Personally, however, I give little Benny more credit. He had the idea and worked a plan. And he did it for the right reasons. Jesus conceded that many religious acts take place in public. He explained that things like giving to the poor, praying and fasting were right things that could be done for the wrong reasons. In the big scheme of things, motives do matter. Jesus said this about the good things people do, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1)

Calling attention to your good deeds is its own reward. When you do things to be noticed or to elicit praise from others, that’s the reward you get. When your motive is to glorify God, He notices when no one else does. What God sees in you matters above all else. Benny Barnes never sought the attention that came his way. He simply wanted to say “thank you” by being of help. May the Lord find more Benny’s among us.

The Rev. Darryl Wood is pastor of First Baptist Church Vincent. You can reach him at