Often our eldest child can be an absolute delight. He is sensitive, caring and deep, and the kid just loves God.
Every so often at our house, both Noah and Leah go off and just play together quietly. It's awesome, and always a welcome reprieve from the rowdiness that is common. They will just go upstairs, get out their toys, and commence their game of "monster" or race cars or get out their trains or even just wrestle. It's heart-warming and endearing to sneak upstairs and spy on them wrestling. Such cute little people. I often tell Melissa that "I just want to eat them!" In the good way, of course.
Well, this particular day, Noah decided he wanted to do something especially nice for his mama during their upstairs play time. She'll really appreciate a personal drawing, he thinks, that will communicate to her how much I love her. Leah, uninterested in doing any such thing, just grabbed her dolls and entered into her own little world.
Noah finished his masterpiece, and brought it down to Melissa.
"Buddy, what is this?"
"I made it for you, mama. I thought you would really like it."
"Oh, thank you! That was so nice of you," Melissa said as she pulled him close for hugs and kisses.
"I have an idea," she continued, "let's dig into your halloween candy. Awesome actions like that deserve some reward." The smile that crossed Noah's face came immediately.
Well, Leah eventually finds out what has happened. I don't remember but this probably happened by Noah saying something like, "Leah, I got 3 pieces of candy!"
So Leah began to plan. Hmm, if he got 3 pieces of candy just for drawing a picture….
She went to work, and put together the nicest picture she could. She sprinted downstairs, eager to show mama her masterpiece.
"Mama, look what I drew!"
"That's great honey. Good job!"
"Where's my candy?"
Melissa tells me she paused. I imagine she smiled knowingly. And then she said something just inundated in wisdom.
"Well, Leah, I'm sorry babe, but we're not gonna get any candy."
"Why not?! Noah got candy for giving you a picture!!"
"Yep, you're right, but listen to me. You both made such beautiful pictures. But Noah made a picture thinking of me. You made a picture thinking of yourself."
When we do things for the simple sake of gaining reward, who are we truly serving? When we serve God in order to avoid damnation, or gain heaven, or gain purpose, or whatever, is it truly about Him?
A gospel-centered life is a life that is moved to love God freely because of what he has done and who he is, as opposed to a life moved to action for reward.
PS - That story is absolutely untrue. Though it does describe our family fairly accurately.