All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, But the LORD weighs the motives. Proverbs 16:2
One of the many disciplines every believer should practice is honestly evaluating our motives. We need to check our motives for everything we engage in. The motives for our marriages, families, careers, possessions and even motives that drive church attendance, and any other spiritual activities should not escape our careful evaluation.
The reason for this necessary, all-inclusive ‘motive evaluation’ is to confront our sinful motives and in faith and repentance replace them with pure motives that will bring glory to God (Col. 3:17). If our heart’s motives are left unchecked, our activities and pursuits may be out of sync with God’s purposes, as the heart is still deceitful and desperately sick (Jer. 17:9). This amounts to engagements that are not glorifying to Him. Even seemingly right and proper conduct we engage in, if not conducted from a God glorifying motive, it can be nothing but hypocrisy, or legalism.
For example, going to church might well be to satisfy the expectations of others or even to earn some kudos with God! Reading our bibles and praying might be simply to meet a religious demand we have placed on ourselves. Activity such as this will never please the Lord because of its selfish, driving motive!
All our actions in life need be conducted out from a motive of love and obedience toward God and a longing to please Him. Because when all is said and done as Jerry Bridges puts so well in his book, Transforming Grace; “God searches the heart and understands every motive. To be acceptable to Him, our motives must spring from a love for Him and a desire to glorify Him. Obedience to God performed from a legalistic motive – that is a fear of the consequences or to gain favour with God – is not pleasing to God.”