“All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord” (Proverbs 16:2, NIV).
Have you ever had the Holy Spirit weigh your motive for something you have done? Have there been times He has revealed to you that something you thought was done in love was actually done for less than an altruistic reason? Perhaps the appearance of an act was loving, but the motive behind it was not. Things that we do may appear to be inspired by love but God looks into the heart. If we long to live a life that honors Him, we want to know if something is wrong. Most often those inner motives are fine, but sometimes the Holy Spirit will reveal that something is just not quite right.
Guilt or shame can be a motive for an action. We may try to help someone for what we believe is a good reason, but what we do actually becomes an attempt to lessen a shame or alleviate a guilt. God wishes what we do to come from a heart that has been cleansed of guilt and instead motivated by His love. We might also feel forced by circumstances or others to do something that appears wonderfully giving. However, our motive does not come from a heart that has been broken of selfishness. If we give expecting something in return, then we also give in selfishness. “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 we give freely in love without analyzing the personal cost, our giving comes from a heart that understands the costly gift of Jesus’ love. He laid down His life without expectation. His motive was pure and unrestrained love. Ours should be the same.
I ask for the Holy Spirit to continually reveal the motives of my heart—if my actions are inspired by His love or by any guilt or selfishness. If the least bit of guilt or selfishness is involved, I ask Him to expose it and continually cleanse my heart. But if His love is my motive, I praise Him for cleansing the thoughts and attitudes of my heart. There are no chains that bind. I am free to cheerfully give myself away expecting nothing in return but His love to fill and sustain me.