Why do we do what we do?

gratitude is motivating

Sometimes, an end result can look the same even when the motivations behind the action are opposite.

We might be cleaning our kitchen to impress guests. Our motivation is to look good, to appear other than we are, to have our guests think highly of us. We clean because we are thinking of what others might think or say of us.

We might be cleaning our kitchen to keep up our pride. Our motivation is to be the best housekeeper, to be in control of our home, to have the most beautiful home. We clean because we think highly of ourselves.

We might be cleaning our kitchen out of guilt. Our motivation is to not be unworthy of a kitchen upgrade, to show our mothers that we aren’t poor excuses for homemakers, to demonstrate to our husbands that we do accomplish something during the day. We clean because we feel badly when we don’t.

We might be cleaning our kitchen grudgingly, hating every minute of it. Our motivation is bare necessity, but we are bitter about it. We clean merely because, for one reason or another, we must.

Why do we do what we do? Gratitude is the most powerful motivator we can have as we seek to get things done.

Or, we might be cleaning our kitchen out of gratitude. Our motivation is care for our family, gratefulness for the gift of said kitchen, anticipation for the service yet to be accomplished in it. We clean because we are gladly and cheerfully fulfilling the duty set before us. We clean because God has cleaned us and we are continuing to work that cleansing from our inner being out into our world. We clean because we are people made clean, no longer unclean.

Five different stories, all with the same outcome: a clean kitchen. Yet only one of them is a good story. Only one of them is the story we should be telling with our lives.

This week as we think about our thankfulness, let us think also about how that thankfulness shows itself.

The good story does not go: “She was so grateful that she napped, read, and took life easy.”

Just because we sometimes do our duty with a bad attitude does not mean we should change the duty. It means we should change the attitude as we still perform the duty. With a thankful heart, the job is still done.

You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. – 2 Corinthians 9:11

The thanksgiving that God produces in us is not simply a feeling, it is a motivator. Thanksgiving does not merely well up in our hearts and make us feel warm and cozy. Because God gave, so we give. Because God cleanses, so we do, too. Because God loves, we do as well. It is duty and obedience, but it is also joyful imitation. In Christ, we are free from fear, pride, guilt, and bitterness. This produces a thankfulness that works itself out in our lives and affects not only what we do, but also how we do it.

Let us show our gratitude for our family by smiling at them, even when they break their dishes.

Let us show our gratitude for our homes by taking good care of them.

Let us show our gratitude for our salvation by working it out with prayer and joy.

And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving,
and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!
– Psalm 107:22


  1. Thank you so much for this post. I bookmarked it so I can reread it. I deal with negatively a lot. Unnecessary criticism of myself and guessing what others “feel. ” This reminds me of how God really feels. This means changing MY strongly entrenched reasonings that are different than His.

    2 Corinthians 10:4-5, New World Translation:
    4 For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but powerful by God for overturning strongly entrenched things. 5 For we are overturning reasonings and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are bringing every thought into captivity to make it obedient to the Christ.

  2. I also like this scripture:
    Titus 2:3-5
    3 Likewise, let the older women be reverent in behavior, .., teachers of what is good, 4 so that they may advise the younger women … 5 to be … working at home…
    4 footnote ADVISE Or “recall to their senses; train.”
    5 footnote WORKING Or “caring for their homes.”

    Christian women are to ‘work at or care for thier home’. We can train each other to do this joyfully and thankfully. This post helps to do that. Thanks.

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