Carrie sat in her small office. Deep creases ran across her forehead as she ran the figures through her calculator one more time. The numbers just did not line up. After all of her hard work, planning, and scheming, she still showed no profit. As she slumped back into her chair, she wondered what had gone wrong. She had followed her marketing plan. She had prayed desperately for success, and she knew her product was marketable. She just could not understand why she was not profiting. As she leaned back in her chair, she could see her name in lights, the fame, the glory, and the money she would be able to spend on herself if she could just hit a bigger market.
Behind every effort lies a motive, a deep-seated reason for doing something. Proverbs 16:2 states "All a man's ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord" (NIV). We can reason with ourselves to make decisions that seem perfectly acceptable, but are they truly the best choice we can make? How can we determine that we are making a good decision based on God's plan for us? How can we be assured that our plans will succeed because we have the Lord's blessing and anointing on our lives?
Based on the word of God, I believe the answer lies in the simple question, "why?" We can determine that there is a definite need in our family, church, or community. In such a situation, it is likely that our first response would be to question, "What can I do?" We begin making plans, forming committees, and charging into a situation without listening to the small, quiet voice of the Holy Spirit. We are determined to make a change, hopefully for the better.
Could it possibly be more productive to ask, "Why do I want to do something? What do I expect to gain?" The answers to these questions will determine your results. We can trust that our plans will succeed if we commit whatever we do to the Lord, according to Proverbs 16:3. However, will the Lord bless our plans if we are working diligently to fulfill our own desires, laboring to bring glory and honor to ourselves?
Searching deep in your heart takes courage. As we search, we may find unpleasant things, hidden desires and motives that we thought had been buried long ago. However, as long as these desires remain hidden, we cannot allow God to do a true working in our lives. We must bring to the surface and deal with those issues that may not seem so pleasant for even though we may be unaware, "God searches man's hearts and understands motives behind every thought," 1 Chronicles 28:9.
As we search our hearts, we may find an unresolved need for justification from ourselves, our peers, and even God. Although we know that we have been justified by faith, we may continue to work to prove to ourselves and others that we are worthy of redemption, love, and mercy. We may be seeking material possessions, hoping to gain them by our own means rather than by seeking first the kingdom of God. It could be that we are expecting a returned favor or simple gratitude.
Although each of these motives may seem harmless, its innocence is refutable on biblical terms. Further, if these motives are masked by our call for pure Christian brotherly love, our efforts are futile for we cannot love our brother more than ourselves while blessing our brother for personal gain. James states in chapter 4, verse 3, "When you ask, you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives that you may spend what you get on your pleasures."
As we examine our motives, it is imperative that that we seek God, asking Him for wisdom and guidance. Only He can change our hearts, and as we spend time in His presence, He will mold us into the image of Christ. If we find that our motives are leading us astray, pray for His divine intervention, that we may reflect His glory, doing all things for His honor. First and foremost, pray that His love can be seen through us so that others may see His face and come to learn of Him.
Lana is married with three children. She is a teacher with a Master's degree in Educational Leadership. With the release of her first novel, Tara's Forgotten Son, she has devoted herself to writing for inspiration.
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