Becoming detached from the things of this world is often a painful process and involves sacrifice. But when the believer gives up something dear to him for the sake of the Cause of God, mysterious forces will be released which will cause the Faith to grow. To offer up one’s time, to labour for the establishment of the Faith in a locality, to give up the comforts of home and to go as a pioneer to foreign lands, to offer up one’s substance for the promotion of the Cause, to be persecuted for one’s faith, and even to give one’s life at the end—all these sacrifices are meritorious in the sight of God and will undoubtedly bring victory to His Cause, provided one’s motives are pure and sincere. That is the essential condition of loyalty and steadfastness in the Covenant of God—purity of motive. Without it one’s deeds are not acceptable by God. Bahá’u’lláh testifies to this truth in these words: “O Children of Adam! Holy words and pure and goodly deeds ascend unto the heaven of celestial glory. Strive that your deeds may be cleansed from the dust of self and hypocrisy and find favour at the court of glory; for ere long the assayers of mankind shall, in the holy presence of the Adored one, accept naught but absolute virtue and deeds of stainless purity. This is the day-star of wisdom and of divine mystery that hath shone above the horizon of the divine will. Blessed are they that turn thereunto.
(Adib Taherzadeh, The Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 22-23)
Certain philosophers have considered intention superior to action, for the goodwill is absolute light; it is purified and sanctified from the impurities of selfishness, of enmity, of deception.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 302)
Consider the motive of every soul, and ponder the thought he cherisheth. Be ye straightway mindful and on your guard.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 315)
First and foremost, one should use every possible means to purge one’s heart and motives, otherwise, engaging in any form of enterprise would be futile.
(Shoghi Effendi, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 1)
If a man’s actions are motivated by the thought that he may reap a reward for himself in the next world, then this is attachment, and a barrier between himself and God.
(Adib Taherzadeh, The Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 22)
It is indeed strange that instead of offering thanks for this bounty, which truly derives from the grace of Almighty God, by arising as one in gratitude and enthusiasm and praying that these noble purposes will daily multiply, some, on the contrary, whose reason has been corrupted by personal motives and the clarity of whose perception has been clouded by self-interest and conceit; whose energies are devoted to the service of their passions, whose sense of pride is perverted to the love of leadership, have raised the standard of opposition and waxed loud in their complaints. Up to now, they blamed the Shah for not, on his own initiative, working for his people’s welfare and seeking to bring about their peace and well-being. Now that he has inaugurated this great design they have changed their tune. Some say that these are newfangled methods and foreign isms, quite unrelated to the present needs and the time-honored customs of Persia. Others have rallied the helpless masses, who know nothing of religion or its laws and basic principles and therefore have no power of discrimination—and tell them that these modern methods are the practices of heathen peoples, and are contrary to the venerated canons of true faith, and they add the saying, “He who imitates a people is one of them.” One group insists that such reforms should go forward with great deliberation, step by step, haste being inadmissible. Another maintains that only such measures should be adopted as the Persians themselves devise, that they themselves should reform their political administration and their educational system and the state of their culture and that there is no need to borrow improvements from other nations. Every faction, in short, follows its own particular illusion.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 11-12)
Love and serve mankind just for the sake of God and not for anything else. The foundation of your love toward humanity must be spiritual faith and Divine assurance.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 213)
Now it may be that a man performs an action which in appearance is righteous, but which is dictated by covetousness. For example, a butcher rears a sheep and protects it; but this righteous action of the butcher is dictated by desire to derive profit, and the result of this care is the slaughter of the poor sheep. How many righteous actions are dictated by covetousness! But the goodwill is sanctified from such impurities.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 302)
We behold it, in this day, at the mercy of rulers so drunk with pride that they cannot discern clearly their own best advantage, much less recognize a Revelation so bewildering and challenging as this. And whenever any one of them hath striven to improve its condition, his motive hath been his own gain, whether confessedly so or not; and the unworthiness of this motive hath limited his power to heal or cure.
(Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 254)
What an extraordinary situation now obtains, when no one, hearing a claim advanced, asks himself what the speaker’s real motive might be, and what selfish purpose he might not have hidden behind the mask of words. You find, for example, that an individual seeking to further his own petty and personal concerns, will block the advancement of an entire people. To turn his own water mill, he will let the farms and fields of all the others parch and wither. To maintain his own leadership, he will everlastingly direct the masses toward that prejudice and fanaticism which subvert the very base of civilization.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 103-104)