Proverbs 16:2 All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight,
But the Lord weighs the motives.
1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.
Philippians 1:17 the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives,
James 4:3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.
People can do really good things with all the wrong motives. People can look like super saints on the outside, but their motives are all messed up. We can pray with wrong motives. We can tell people about Jesus with the wrong motives. People can give away large sums of money with totally wrong motives.
I don’t know what people’s motives are when they serve in our church, when they teach Sunday School to fifth grade boys, when they give money to the special offering, when they go to Africa with our short term missions team, when they pray five hours each day during our “Five Day Prayer” event. Nobody knows what someone else’s motives are. The Bible says that are motives are hidden in the deep darkness of our heart. A very sad truth is that most people don’t even know what their own motives are. One of my personal sayings is, “I can do all the right things for all the wrong reasons and not even know it.”
But God knows what our motives are, and the Bible says that someday at the “Judgment Seat of Christ“ He will disclose the motives of men’s hearts.
2 Corinthians 5:9-10 Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
My personal desire is to please the Lord with all that I do, with all that I say, and with all that I think. For that to be true I must have pure motives. I battle that constantly because I can switch from doing what I am doing for the Lord to doing it for my own ego in a second and not be aware of it.
My job is to teach people the Bible so that they can grow in character, to counsel them so that they can have good marriages, to lead them so that they are successful in life. If I do my job well people will be appreciative and praise me, and that feels really good. It is very hard to keep my motives pure, but I must because the minute they go from pleasing God to pleasing people I loose all blessing and power from God, and then everyone pays the price.
Every morning I pray and ask God to please show me when my motives go bad.