Check Your Motives
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9
Check your motives. I heard the words years ago in the context of a spiritually based recovery program that I didn’t realize was blatantly and dangerously based on false religion. I knew virtually nothing about the Lord and the Bible, so I was easily deceived and blind to the truth. Checking my motives when making decisions and before taking actions was a wonderful idea, but there was a terrible problem. Instead of checking my motives – and actions – against the will and ways of the Lord, I was measuring them against the world’s ungodly ways. I needed to see if my motives lined up with God’s Word. The world’s “morals” are NOT the same as God’s Word. Needless to say, my life was overrun by sin!
Years later, I found myself one day checking the motives of my heart in trying to help a friend with something. Something didn’t feel quite right about what I had started to do to help her, and it wasn’t merely the obvious fact she hadn’t asked for my help in the first place! The Holy Spirit poked and prodded me until He had my full attention. It was as though He were whispering in my heart those words I had learned long ago. Check your motives. In obedience to God’s Spirit, I began to look at my heart under the bright light of God’s ways. How shocked and appalled I was! I had convinced myself that I was doing something good, but my heart was filthy. I wasn’t trying to help my friend. I was distracted from the Lord and my work, seeking a fun and challenging diversion, pride-fully felt I could be her little savior concerning the tough situation she faced, and was deeply afraid she wouldn’t be okay if I didn’t run to her rescue. If I had not heeded the seeming whisper of God’s Holy Spirit pressing me to check my motives, I would have gone on in my wickedness. Instead, I repented and sought the Lord’s mercy.
Somewhere along the way, we humans seemed to decide that sin refers solely to our actions, for those of us even willing to acknowledge the reality of our sin against God at all. But sin starts in our hearts, and whether or not it ever manifests in our actions, it is STILL SIN. Anything ungodly in our hearts – including unholy motives as I found in my heart that day – is sickening and deplorable to our holy God and needs to be repented of. Oh, the freedom I found in the Holy Spirit’s chastening, in my repentance, and in God’s sweet mercy. Where there had been yet another shadow of darkness in my heart, there was now more of His brilliant light.
Check your motives, my friend. Bring your heart daily before the Lord!