When doing a mitzvah which is an act of kindness such as charity or helping someone, what is the proper intention?
To focus on the recipient? Or perhaps I should be thinking I am doing a command of Hashem, and the act and the recipient are inconsequential artifacts. So just as I shake a Lulav when Hashem says to, I also give money to person Hashem says to. Or perhaps there is some type of combination intention?
I would prefer sourced answers, but definitive arguments are acceptable as well.
A couple of the issues at hand that have me wondering:
I feel the Yerushalmi in Pe'ah 1 1 that says 'just as He is a rachum and chanun, so too you should be a rachum and chanun' compounds the issue more than solves it, because as it turns out, when I am not being a rachum, I am acting out of concern for Hashem's commandment, but once I reach a level of being that rachum, my sole concern is the recipient. So now the epitome of observance is the fact that I am completely ignoring the fact that the act I am doing is Hashem's command, being that I am focused solely on the recipient. This seems odd to me, but please feel free to explain these words, or others in a different light.
And before answering 'it's both!', let me point out why I think it is not. Part of the issue here is an old question I've had. Did Avraham Avinu do chessed with passers by before he recognized Hashem? Or was it a practice he began afterwards when he realized what a good ploy it was to get people to actively bless Hashem? Think about this, when he confronted them and said 'either bless Hashem, or pay for the food' what would happen to his reward for his chessed if they paid up? Seems like he didn't care as much about the niceness aspect as he did about the religious experience. And while the chessed he did can be described as having brought people under the wings of Hashem, and nothing to do with the food etc, that still leaves me wondering what is the underlying thought process for our chessed that we are supposed to do.