Stop Doing the Right Thing for the Wrong Reason

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Everybody Always" by Bob Goff. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Do you perform good deeds to get on God’s good side? Do you flaunt your good deeds on social media or to your friends?

In Everybody, Always, Bob Goff says that God doesn’t keep score of your good deeds—he expects you to do them. Flaunting your good deeds on social media or to your friends will not get you in God’s good graces. Stop doing the right thing for the wrong reason and become love.

Continue reading to learn why you should stop doing the right thing for the wrong reason.

God Doesn’t Keep Score

According to Bob Goff in Everybody, Always, when you become love, you stop collecting examples of the ways in which you’ve shown love. You realize that showing love is not a path to God’s good graces but a means to please God and serve him faithfully. But too often, people do the right thing for the wrong reason and keep track of their good deeds. They mark a point on their scorecards to prove to Jesus that they’re living with grace, and they believe that a certain number of points will equate to receiving more love from Jesus. Jesus’s grace is not something to be won or purchased with points. Becoming love means you stop making love about yourself and make it about Jesus.

Bob uses the example of a pizza parlor, ala Showbiz Pizza, where you can win tickets for playing games, to demonstrate this point. He and his children collected tickets for years, and when he went to turn them in, he was sure a great reward waited for them. Instead, when he turned in almost a thousand tickets, he received a pencil with no eraser. The tickets, which seemed so valuable, were actually worthless. 

When you collect your good deeds as leverage for Jesus’s love, you make your actions about nothing more than receiving validation. You are not confident in God’s love for you and seek to earn it by proving your love through various accomplishments. But God does not want a series of accomplishments, He wants you to become love in your hearts. 

Boasting about your accomplishments is also not becoming love. You are, again, seeking external validation for how good you are, and this makes everything you do about you, not love for the sake of love. You don’t need to attach words like “ministry” or “charity” to your actions. Don’t attach any words to them. See your behavior as an extension of the love God has blessed you with. Give your love to everyone without conditions and without making it about you. God has created a world full of love, and your only task is to become the embodiment of that in the unique way He’s granted you. 

You Don’t Need a Stage to Do God’s Work

We tend to believe that we are only validated when others witness us doing the right thing. We perform on the stage of life to audiences of those around us. When we do, we pay more attention to how big our stage is than how big our actions are. When you become love, you don’t need applause or validation for the things you do because you know just doing beautiful things is enough. 

Additionally, sometimes you choose the wrong stage for important conversations or actions. If you’re always searching for the perfect platform by which to express your faith, you will likely never find it. The perfect platform is the world God made. It’s around you all the time. 

You become love when you surround yourself with words and habits that exhibit love, forgiveness, benevolence, and generosity. You allow the communication of positivity to become a daily practice regardless of where you are or who’s around. And the more you practice communicating love, the more it becomes an inherent part of who you are. You don’t have to wait for a stage or a performance, you just live as love. 

Humans are hardwired for memorization. With practice and repetition, you take in the details of certain behavior and create a sort of muscle memory for it. Living like Jesus is the same. Each time you intentionally choose to live as love, you sketch that feeling and behavior into your mental fabric. After a while, you don’t even realize you’re doing these things. You don’t have to worry about trying to remember how to be loving. Your muscle memory takes over, and your actions become automatic. When that happens, you’ve become love.  

The great thing about stepping down from the stage and ceasing individual performances is that you stop feeling like a failure if you mess up. In front of an audience, the pressure to be perfect is high. If you screw up, you feel ashamed and embarrassed. But in God’s world, you can miss a step or play the wrong note, and no one will be the wiser. You don’t have to hang your head because the next moment and next day are open to try again. God doesn’t expect you to be perfect, and you shouldn’t either. He just wants you to move in the direction of becoming love, and only through practice and removing the pressure of perfection will you be able to allow for mistakes that help you grow and improve. 

When you understand that messing up and trying again is part of becoming love, you also find it easier to allow others the same freedom. People will mess up or play the wrong note, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn something from these people or their mistakes. Stay with those people and give them space to try again. Become love by helping others if they need it, but don’t try to show them what to do. Being with others is enough to show them grace and help them experience the depth of your faith, which can help them see the depth of their own. 

Stop Doing the Right Thing for the Wrong Reason

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Bob Goff's "Everybody Always" at Shortform .

Here's what you'll find in our full Everybody Always summary :

  • How to live your life like Jesus lived his
  • Why you need to open yourself up to God's love and give love to others
  • How to deepen your faith by focusing on love rather than showing that you "agree" with God

Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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