Have you ever suspected that someone was not being totally honest with you but couldn’t prove it?
Maybe it was their tone of voice that caused you to become suspicious. Or perhaps it was their facial expression or something in their body language that caused you to suspect that something was not quite right. Even though their words sounded perfectly legitimate, you just “knew” they weren’t being straight with you.
Unfortunately, we can’t climb into someone’s head to see if they are actually being honest so it’s sometimes difficult to tell if someone is really being up front with us or not. Because our thoughts, intentions, and motivations are often easy to disguise, many people (including many Christians) feel free to be dishonest with themselves and others about why they are doing some of the things they are doing. After all, no one can see the thoughts behind someone’s actions, so why not?
Well, here’s why- even though we can get away with fooling others (and even ourselves) regarding our actual motives we can’t ever fool God. (see Hebrews 4:12-13 for a fuller explanation). Some people are very sophisticated in hiding their true motivations but nothing can ever be hidden from God.
You see, according to 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 each of us will be called to give an account for the lives we have lived. At that time, God will not only look upon what we have done but He’ll also look at each motivation for the things we’ve done.
A “motive” of course, is your true reason for action and very often a person’s actions will hide their true motives. When this happens in a relationship we say that people “are playing games with each other.” In the same way, we often speak of those who have a “hidden agenda” or “an ulterior motive.” These phrases describe people who are not up front about why they are doing whatever it is that they are doing.
Would it surprise you to learn that even the Apostles had to deal with people who had hidden motivations in the Bible? Just take a look at what the Apostle Paul had to say when he wrote the following words to the members of the church in the town of Philippi…
You see, the people that Paul speaks of here were doing the right thing for the wrong reason. They outwardly appeared to be doing a great work for God but inwardly their motivations were all wrong. Paul knew it but more importantly, God knew it.
This question of “inward motivation” seems to be very important to God. For example, we read in the Old Testament how the Lord spoke to the prophet Samuel and told him to go to the town of Bethlehem. While there, Samuel’s job was to locate a man named Jesse because God had selected one of Jesse’s sons to be the next king.
When Samuel saw the first son (who apparently was a tall, good-looking guy), he was sure that God had selected him to be the king. But this first son was not God’s choice. Neither was the second. Or the third. And so it went until seven of Jesse’s sons had presented themselves and been rejected.
It was not until the eighth son (who had been out in the fields watching the sheep) had presented himself did God give Samuel the go-ahead to anoint him as the new king. This last son was named David and he did indeed go on to become a great king. But the question for us is why would God choose a common sheep-herder as king instead of those who seemingly had a lot more to offer?
Well, God explained His reasoning to Samuel like this…
So we’re told that our thoughts and intentions are pretty important to God. Of course, knowing that God will judge the unseen motives behind our actions can be a scary thought for some people. In fact, The Doctor suspects that many people may be shocked one day when God shows them the real reasons behind some of their actions.
So knowing that God considers our thoughts and motivations to be so important, it’s a good idea to ask ourselves a few critical questions now- questions like:
- What are the real motivations behind our actions? Are we looking to please our friends or are we looking to please God? (see 1 Thessalonians 2:4)
- Are there other motivations hiding behind a disguise of religious sounding words or actions?
- Are you trying to convince yourself that something is the right thing to do when it’s really just the easy thing to do?
- Are we acting selfishly or unselfishly? Are we really considering the needs of others or just the needs of ourselves?
- Are you doing good things as an outgrowth of your relationship with God or are you doing them so that people will see them and praise you for them?
If your motivations are good and acceptable before God then a reward waits for you, one that can never be destroyed. And what if you find that some of your motivations are not everything they should be? Well, in that case, the thing to do is to be honest with yourself about it and ask God to replace those old, wrong motivations with new ones that are acceptable to Him. Then as your inward motivations become more Godly, you’ll find that your outward actions will follow too.
Remember that God is more concerned with the “inside” you than the “outside” you. God looks on our hearts- not on our outward appearance.