To prosecutors in the courtroom, motives matter. To the rich young heiress in search of love, motives matter. To the mate betrayed by infidelity, motives matter.
The why behind the doing matters as much to God as to any human being. He who knows the heart like none other wants sanctified service from sincere, spiritual motives.
Motives matter because, sooner or later, they bubble to the surface. No wonder that greed is portrayed by grabby fingers. Motives ultimately lead one to act in order to satisfy the impulse, be it selfish or altruistic, worldly or spiritual.
So while God alone knows all the heart’s secrets, motives have a way of working themselves into the public eye. Remember the old saying about fooling some of the people some of the time, but …
Our track records are usually good indicators as to our motives. The long haul shows directions, betrays interests and desires, highlights what gets our goat and what sails our boat.
Paul could point to his conduct as a good indicator of his motive.
“For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts. You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed?God is our witness. We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else” (1 Thessalonians 2:3-6a NIV).
How wonderful to be able to appeal to our conduct to show pure motives!
So how can we do the same?
1. Start with the heart. Purify, consecrate, sanctify. Those are the actions the heart needs.
2. Be honest with self and neighbor. No need for harshness, but truth is a wonderful elixir.
3. Always ask what pleases God. And find the answer in Scripture.
4. Remember that God tests the heart. He sees all, every time.
5. Work to hear the big word of praise, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” That will nip in the bud any desire to hear lesser compliments.
Remember, motives matter, and they matter most in the things of God.
Motive matters most to God.