Motives: Can They Really Be That Deadly?

How do we know if our motives are pure? If we are walking in total obedience to the Lord and depending on Him for everything, there will be no need to question it. But other people will. That’s just the sad fact. People judge motive.


There are tons of reasons people put other people on the stand to determine their motive: to expose discrepancies in their testimony, to mask their own insecurity, envy, and self-righteousness to name a few. We care about their opinion. But should we? Besides we ourselves, the only One Who can rightfully judge our motives is Christ alone. And boy, does He!


In reality, we mostly know our own motives for doing or saying a particular thing, otherwise, we wouldn’t do or say anything at all.


Take James, for instance; he’s a prominent cardiology researcher who has dedicated his life to find a cure for heart disease. He truly has compassion on all people prone to heart-disease. James also wants to be rich and famous, to be named a hero. His motives are 2-fold. So should we automatically assume that all James wants is to become rich and famous? Does his motive to become a rich and famous hero contaminate his pure motive of compassion?


What about Eleanor? She loves volunteering at the soup kitchen on Saturdays. She gets up early each weekend and heads downtown because she has a heart for helping the poor and undernourished people of her community. But because she earns a 6-figure salary in the corporate environment, she feels she is killing 2 birds with 1 stone. She’s helping people, and she’s relieving her guilt for making beaucoup bucks as the poor suffer and have relatively nothing. Is the pure motive of serving people shrouded by a motive to relieve guilt?


Let’s take a look at Louis. He’s all for supporting overseas missionaries but feels he doesn’t have the money to sacrifice a portion of it each month. After talking to his tax-preparer, he fudges his income numbers so he can give a large portion of his tax refund to the missionaries. Does the act of lying on his tax return poison his motive to give support to God’s work?


There’s an account from the Bible in 1 Samuel 15 when King Saul chose to spare the best of the oxen and sheep of the enemy. The Lord had commanded Saul to attack the wicked Amalekites and to destroy all that they had, to spare nothing of the spoil. Was Saul’s motive to please the Lord by his partial obedience (complete disobedience) corrupted by his greed and his lack of faith that God would provide for the Israelites?


Motives really are all that’s important here. It’s all about why we do what we do and not that we do what we do.


Is the desire to be the rich and famous hero sinful at its core? Sure is. (Pride)

*What about the feeling of guilt? Is that a sin? Uh-huh, sorry. (Pride)

*How about lying in order to further God’s work? Duh. (Pride)

*Greed? There are no words… (Pride)

*Disobedience? Um, yeah! (Pride)


We as Christ-followers are required to obey the word of the Lord. Period. Sacrifice without obedience is unacceptable. Giving to get is never good. Our selfish pride is at the root of all our sinful motives. On the flip side, if we obey the word of the Lord, we will never have to question our motives. To obey God at any cost is the only motivation that will give us lasting peace and joy. To obey is better than to sacrifice. (1 Samuel 15:22)

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Suzanne Sommerville

Life Blogger

Christ-follower, daughter, mom, Mimi to 6 grandchildren, teacher, writer, and musician

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