This Hadith is constantly being quoted by Muslims. Interestingly enough, I don't think many who use it have actually read the Hadith in its original form. Often times when it's used, it's from those who try to excuse wrongdoings or acts that we are told to stay away from by saying "my intentions were good". I think we forget that this Hadith doesn't generally reply to just wrongdoings but even things that might be good to do. Our deeds/actions should match our intentions but if our intentions aren't pure but our deeds are 'good', we're missing out on getting the full barakah.
I attended a lecture once and the Da'ae spoke about a friend he knew who always gave great lectures to the ummah. After a while, his friend started realizing that his intentions for doing these lectures were not simply to improve the ummah or guide them. While these were part of his intentions, he knew that he also did them because he was liking the attention he was getting. He liked that people were referring to him as righteous and pious. He liked that he felt as if he was better than them. He liked being their 'reminder' to do better. After this realization, he stopped speaking. He didn't stop speaking publicly because there was something wrong with people thinking he was righteous and pious. He stopped speaking publicly because he started to realize that part of the motivation behind him giving his lectures was the recognition. His intentions were no longer primarily for the sake of Allah(SWT) but for admiration from the creation.
This is something that we as Muslims, especially those who consistently give advice, need to remember. This is bigger than just giving advice though. Whenever we're doing anything, we should check our intentions. Why are you observing hijab? Why did you stop listening to music? Why do you pray tahajjud regularly? Why do you want to become a hafiza? All these actions/deeds are great and Alhamdulilah, we should all strive to do them but the why is also important. Are you doing it to adhere to Allah(SWT)? Are you doing it to praise him? Are you doing it to become a better Mu'min? Are you doing it so people can say "mashaAllah, Aisha is so pious" or so you can say "Alhamdulilah, I am better than Khadijah"? Why did you feel the need to announce these actions on social media? It's important that we keep our intentions pure and don't get caught up in labels and 'worldly' categories/accolades.
I personally constantly think about the intentions behind all of my actions in relation to Islam. If you're doing a noble act for the wrong reason, the solution isn't to stop doing the act but to sit down, reflect, and find ways to adjust your intentions. Keep praying tahajjud, continue observing hijab, keep limiting non-mahram interactions, continue working on memorizing the Qur'an. Just make sincere dua to Allah(SWT) that your intentions remain pure and sincere.
About "Life Gems"
Welcome to another addition to "Lady_Meansie's Corner". This portion of my corner is essentially my blog. The posts will be short but packed with important reminders for fellow Muslimahs. Remember to leave your thoughts in the comments. I love engaging in dialogue with my fellow Muslimahs.