People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives.
- Proverbs 16:2 NLT
When my children were very young, their school used to sponsor an event each Christmas season which allowed the students to secretly shop for their family members and friends. The school asked for volunteers who would work in the shop and assist the children in making their selections and purchases. One year when I volunteered, I worked with another mom who was obviously not very happy about doing her part. I inwardly cringed as she quickly became impatient with the kids, and seemed angry and resentful. I couldn't help but ask myself, "What is this woman doing here?"
Even though this incident happened many years ago, I can still remember it vividly. It's a constant reminder of how badly we can behave when our motives aren't right. I once heard a godly man say that if we can't walk in the fruit of the Spirit when we're involved with something, then maybe we should avoid it altogether. Did this woman think she was doing these kids a favor by being there that day? She certainly wasn't. I could tell by the looks on the children's faces that she was not being a blessing to them, but she was hurting them. Did the woman think she was doing God a favor by volunteering for something her heart wasn't in? Jesus made it clear that when we do even good deeds with wrong motives, we should not expect any reward from the Lord. (Matthew 6:1-2;16) I don't know about you, but I certainly don't want anyone doing anything for me that they're going to resent doing. Isn't it likely that God feels the same way? The Bible says, "Love must be sincere." (Romans 12:9) When we do things out of pure motives, we do them to GIVE--not to RECEIVE. When we do things for others with an attitude that says--"What's in it for me?"--we are doing them with impure motives, and God is not pleased. The apostle Paul wrote: "Our purpose is to please God, not people. He is the one who examines the motives of our hearts." (1 Thessalonians 2:4 NLT) We may be able to hide our true motives from other people, but we will never be able to hide them from God. And even if we spend our entire lives doing good deeds, we will reap a bitter harvest if we did not do them with pure motives. On the other hand, if our purpose is to please God and not people, we will be more likely to only get involved with the things we can do with motives that will honor Him. David had the right idea when he prayed: "Put me on trial, Lord, and cross-examine me. Test my motives and affections." (Psalm 26:2 NLT) If we regularly examine our own motives behind the things we anticipate saying or doing, we may be able to avoid displeasing God and suffering the consequences that impure motives bring. And so, in the words of Jeremiah, I exhort you today--"Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord"! (Lamentations 3:40 NIV)
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for the times I've done or said things out of impure motives. By the power of Your Spirit, please change me so that my purpose will always be to please and glorify You. Give me a heart that loves sincerely, and remove all phoniness from me. Thank You for helping me to examine my ways so that I can avoid the negative consequences of impure motives!
- J. M. Farro