“All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord” (Proverbs 16:2, NIV).
Have you ever had your motive for something you have done “weighed by the Lord”? Have there been times he has revealed to you that something done “in love” was actually not done “in love”? Perhaps the appearance of an act was loving, but the motive behind it was for less than an altruistic reason. Something I do to help another person may appear to be inspired by pure motive, but God looks on my heart. The Holy Spirit asks me to evaluate the motives behind my actions.
Guilt or shame can be the motive for an action. I may try to help someone for what I believe is a good reason, but what I do actually becomes an attempt to lessen a shame or assuage a guilt. God wishes my act to come from a heart that has been cleansed of guilt and shame. I might also feel forced by circumstances or others to do something that appears wonderfully giving. However, my motive behind the act does not come from a heart that has been broken of selfishness. God wishes me to have a cleansed heart with pure motive behind all that I give. “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give,” Paul wrote, “not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7, NIV). If I give away myself freely without hesitation, my giving comes from a heart that understands the cost of what Christ gave for me. He laid down His life for me. His motive was pure and unrestrained love. Mine should be the same.
The Pharisees were quick to judge by appearance. It is the same today–many judge by what they see. What appears to be true is not always true. John Wesley believed that sin is discovered in the motive of the heart. I want my heart to be pure in God's sight. Today I ask once more for the Holy Spirit to reveal the motives of my heart–if my actions are inspired by His love or by my guilt or selfishness. If guilt or selfishness is involved, I ask Him to expose my sin and continually cleanse my heart. “Create in me a pure heart, O God,” I pray, “and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10, NIV). Oh, but if His love is my motive, I praise Him for cleansing the thoughts and attitudes of my heart! I am free to love and cheerfully give myself away.