Saturday, 6 August 2022
All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, But the Lord weighs the motives. (Proverbs 16:2)
How often we rationalize and justify our own motives, but are quick to judge and condemn the intentions of others! Such is the fallen human nature that seems to think that all our ways and intentions are right, not realizing that we are guilty of self-justification and self-deception. We even delude ourselves into thinking that the motive does not matter as long as our actions are right.
Have you ever thought about the possibility of doing a ‘right deed’ with a wrong intention? Scripture reveals numerous instances of doing the right thing, but with wrong or ulterior motives. Look at a few of them:
King Saul even when offering sacrifices to God was being disobedient to Him. (1 Samuel 13:12-14)
We may outwardly attempt to worship God when the heart is far from God. (Isaiah 29:13)
The Pharisees helped the poor and prayed in public with the intent of receiving recognition and honor. (Matthew 6:2,5)
James 4:3 reminds us that we may even pray with wrong intentions. ‘And when you do ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives…’
Paul tells us that men may preach the Gospel out of envy and selfish ambition (Philippians 1:15-17)
Human beings are born with a natural inclination to do wrong because of the fallen nature in them. ‘The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick…’ (Jeremiah 17:9) Outward appearances of piety and godliness motivated by ulterior motives may deceive people, but Proverbs 16:2 reveal that we cannot deceive our creator God to whom nothing is hidden, who will examine the motives and intentions of our heart. Hebrews 4:13 [NLT] says: “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.” And the next verse tells us that God is able to expose and judge the very thoughts and intentions of our heart. God says in Jeremiah 7:10: "I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve."
By God’s standards of righteousness, we stand guilty, since all have sinned and continually fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) but by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ we can be ‘justified [declared free of the guilt of sin, made acceptable to God, and granted eternal life] as a gift by His [precious, undeserved] grace, through the redemption [the payment for our sin] which is [provided] in Christ Jesus.’ (Romans 3:24). When we understand and acknowledge our sinful motives, we need to ask the Lord to “Create in me a pure heart, O God…” (Psalm 50:10)
As a child of God, redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, our thoughts and intentions should be focused on pleasing God and not the self. While we interact with people around us, in our worship and prayer and in all aspects of our lives, let us come with sincere hearts overflowing with love for the Lord and for others. Our motive should be ‘to please God who examines our hearts.’ (1 Thessalonians 2:4). Allow the Holy Spirit to guide and lead us, that our ways and intentions may be pure and pleasing to the Lord. Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). Only when our heart is right and intentions are true, will we bear good fruit.
In all things, let us continually examine our motives to ensure that it is in accordance with the word of God and that our intentions are pleasing to the Lord.
Think on it:
Let love be our motivation! ‘Everything you do must be done with love.’ (1 Corinthians 16:14)