Check Your Motives
Updated: Mar 28
This Week's Scripture & Reflection: Proverbs 16:2
The degree to which an individual believes they are a "good person" often involves what the individual believes about themselves with regard to various factors, such as their behavior, deeds, and or motives. We would love to believe that our actions and pursuits are always fueled by pure and honest intentions. However, this could not be any further from the truth; as fallen human beings, we are not immune to the lure of impure and deceptive motives.
In today’s passage, Solomon, the purveyor of wisdom, declares an unsettling truth about the human perspective: "All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight...”. In other words, we often view our decisions and actions and the motivations behind them as pure, innocent, and blameless. But if our natural perspective has been marred by sin, then it cannot and is not a trustworthy judge or discerner of our motives and intentions. As a result, Solomon continues in this verse pointing to the One who is a trustworthy judge: "But the Lord weighs the motives." God weighs and examines the motives and intentions of the heart, and because He is sinless in nature and incapable of being tempted by evil (cf. James 1:13), His assessments always prove true.
Not only is God a true discerner of our motives and intentions, but also His Word. Hebrews 4:12 declares that the word of God is "living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword" and is "able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." We know ourselves to a certain extent; the Lord knows us wholly and completely. He knows the intents and motives behind every plan we create and every action we take. He’s even able to see motives that may not be the primary driver of a certain plan or pursuit but that may lay beneath the immediate surface.
In everything that we do and pursue, we must always consult the Lord, not solely for direction, but also for assessment: to test to see whether our desires are fueled by pure intentions. James 4:3 explains why at times we do not receive the things we ask God for: We ask with wrong motives, ones that are unrighteous and self-seeking rather than seeking to please the Lord. Ask Him to check your motives! He will not lie to you; therefore, be ready to receive what He reveals!