Motives can be like chameleons.
As my daughter ate her breakfast, the dog sat staring at her on one side, and the cat sat on the stool beside her, every so often reaching her paw out as if to wave for attention. By the intent, soft expressions on their faces, you might think they stared at her in adoration; however, since food was involved, one knows they hoped for a handout. As soon as she finished, off they went to search for crumbs they might have missed earlier.
Sometimes I wish the motives of people were as obvious as that of our pets. Even our own motives may get murky. If we desire balanced, healthy lives, we must consider our motives and that of others. With others, common sense and caution may guide us, but what if we seek something from God?
When we want something from God, we also must examine our motives. Are we being selfish or self-obsessed? Are we helping someone to serve that person, or is there an ulterior reason? Can we determine if we are honest with ourselves or deceived?
All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord (Proverbs 16:2).
Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God (1 Corinthians 4:5).
Oh, how I want to have the correct and best reason for doing something. No matter what we tell ourselves or others, the Lord knows our hearts and the deep, perhaps hidden, need that prompts us to certain actions. Anyone can declare her intentions pure. Only God knows if that is true.
David advised Solomon to acknowledge God and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts (1 Chronicles 28:9).
Each of us needs to be careful to not let the approval of people drive our pursuits. Since people are so fickle, people pleasing only leads to sorrow in forms of rejection or criticism, etc. Don’t seek approval of people. Instead seek the approval of God who tests our hearts (1 Thessalonians 2:4).
For those of us who want to honor God, we want to be loving and kind to others, but that doesn’t mean we should blindly trust. Wisdom is necessary.
The only way I know to get wisdom is to ask God. Forgetting to ask is a common mistake I make, though I am trying to establish the habit of seeking God first in all things. At least we know some of the famous faithful made the same mistake. Joshua made this mistake in Joshua 9 when the Gibeonites deceived the Israelites. They believed the men without inquiring of God. Had they inquired of God, they would have learned the Gibeonites were lying. Earlier under Moses, they also surveyed the Promised Land instead of just obeying God. That led to trouble. We always think we know better or that we can figure this “one” out on our own. Knowing that these living examples of faith failed at times encourages us to not give up.
May we always seek God’s counsel about motives before we act! When we ask Him to search our hearts, may we listen and trust and be brave.
Have you mastered this yet?