John 6:26 (ESV) – “Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.”
The poor, and mean, and carnal motives which induce men to make some religious profession, are painfully exhibited here. Perhaps we have but a faint notion how little the reasons of many for coming to public worship or communion would bear sifting and examination. We may be sure that all is not gold that glitters, and that many a professor is rotten at heart. It was so even under our Lord’s ministry, and much more now. Augustine remarks how seldom “Jesus is sought for the sake of Jesus.”
Our Lord’s perfect knowledge of the secret springs of men’s actions is strikingly exhibited here. We cannot deceive Him even if we deceive man; and our true characters will be exposed in the day of judgment, if they are not found out before we die. Whatever we are in religion, let us be honest and true….
To deal plainly with people about their spiritual condition and faithfully expose their false motives, if we know them, is the positive duty of ministers and teachers. It is no kindness or charity to flatter professing Christians, and tell them they are children of God, and going to heaven, if we know that they only make a religious profession for the sake of what they can get (Emphasis mine).
Wisdom and discrimination in giving temporal relief to the poor are very necessary things in ministers, and indeed in all Christians. Unless we take heed what we do in such matters, we do more harm than good. To be always feeding the poor and giving money to those who make some profession of religion is the surest way to train up a generation of hypocrites, and to inflict lasting injury on souls.
John 6:27 (ESV) – “Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”
Philippians 3:7-8 (ESV) – “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”
J. C. Ryle (1816-1900), Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: John 1:1-10:30, Vol. 3, 350-51.